This research was conducted by the University of Maryland, in partnership with International Partners Cassie Stern Memorial, and several stakeholders in the field.
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This project was designed to investigate the needs of individuals with disabilities in rural El Salvador. Many are “invisible,” that is, rarely leave home, receive services, attend school, or participate in village life. Over the three years of the project, our objectives were to:
- Identify persons with disabilities who stay at home, do not attend school, receive services, and/or participate in village functions;
- Describe barriers to participation for persons with disabilities and their families and promote ways to enable their participation in community functions, improve access to services, and enhance quality of life;
- Develop, implement, document, and evaluate activities to promote community acceptance and build the capacity to integrate children and youth with disabilities and their families in village life.
The findings of this project suggest to the need to develop and implement practical, community-based strategies for promoting acceptance and inclusion of persons with disabilities in the community. In the villages in which we implemented these interventions, substantial progress was made in ways that promoted social and education inclusion. Local strategies such as the Circulos de Amigos program were especially important in a country where resources are so limited and the impact of poverty is so pervasive. Similarly, these findings argue for the importance of local training and public awareness activities to disseminate information about rights.