Policy Research

Special education, treatment and a vision for the disabled were uncharted territory when ADAPT began. We have, therefore, invested time and effort in intensive research across a range of issues, to understand the current position of the disabled in India and to formulate strategies for the way ahead.

Our pioneering research studies include Invisible Children: A Study of Policy Exclusion (Alur, M. 1993-99), which led to the creation of our anganwadi network and centre for the neglected children of Dharavi.


A Government of India survey found that a staggering 98% of persons with disability were outside the ambit of services. Dr. Mithu Alur, Founder Chairperson of ADAPT, investigated the Government of India's ICDS policy, which excluded disabled children from their programmes, in her doctoral research entitled “Invisible Children: A Study of Policy Exclusion”. The research found that various factors have led to children with disabilities being left out of existing programmes. Policy makers have remained silent on the issue, not clarifying that 'all' means disabled children as well. The Government relies on voluntary organizations to deliver services, which is why coverage is still on a micro level. NGOs with their limited infrastructure provide services which are only the tip of the iceberg. Due to the exclusion of children from the Government's programmes, the NGOs concentrate on delivery of services, struggling to fill the gap. This has contributed to disempowerment and depoliticization. This has also led to marginalization of people with disabilities. 90% of disabled people are out of any service, especially in the rural areas. Therefore ADAPT began its second journey... the journey of inclusion.


Following the findings of this doctoral research, the Society moved away from segregated education to inclusive education. It strongly felt that education of children with disabilities must become the State’s responsibility. Disabled adults and families who have suffered from being marginalized for years must be brought to the forefront and rightfully take their place in the country as citizens.

The aim is to construct an inclusive community where all children, who face barriers to learning due to social disadvantages, gender or disability, are included. The National Resource Centre for Inclusion (NRCI) was created at Mumbai in 1999 to address these issues on a macro-micro level. A Charter was developed. The admission policy was changed to address all children with disability as well as other children facing barriers to learning. It is supported by Dr. Marcia Rioux, Principal Co-ordinator, Canada; Mr. Cameron Crawford, President, Roeher Institute, Canada, Mr. Michael Bach, Vice President, Roeher Institute, Canada and Ms. Melanie Boyd, Programme Officer, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

In this project a CAPP Instructional material emerged:

The Culturally Appropriate Policy and Practice (CAPP) is available in three volumes.  CAPP is a set of instructional resource material code of practice, that acts as a guide to teachers, parents and policy makers on 'how to' include children with disabilities into mainstream schools.

The training materials help to develop, promote and sustain education practices for children with any disability, into mainstream schools, making education for all possible.

The three volumes of CAPP are written to address the practice of inclusion at three levels; macro, mezzo and micro. CAPP I, written by Dr. Mithu Alur and Dr. Michael Bach, is the whole policy approach to Inclusive Education on the macro level of policy, legislation and political culture, at the local, state, national and global level.

It is directed at policy makers, educational administrators, professionals in the field of education and heads of civil society institutions.


Disability and Human Rights
Vision, principles, and commitment to inclusive education
Policy making process for inclusive education  
Teacher preparation for inclusive education.


CAPP II is authored by Dr. Mithu Alur, Dr. Marcia Rioux and Ms. Jennifer Evans. It is the whole community approach to Inclusive Education on the Mezzo level of community workers, local administrators and bureaucrats.

CAPP II contains training manuals in the form of flip- charts, and is targeted at training material for teachers at the pre- school level, i.e. age group 3-5 years.

16 manuals grouped together in six basic themes of policy, community, education, training, meeting individual needs and managing inclusive classrooms.
The manuals provide methods and strategies that can be introduced with simple modifications into any school, classroom or community moving towards inclusive education.
The emphasis is on a holistic approach that combines healthcare, education, simple treatment and management of children with disabilities.
The manuals provide a guide for implementing inclusive practices using the community as collaborators.

CAPP II- 16 Manuals:

Policy makers at national and state level
Policy implementers at local and community level
How to open an inclusive nursery or Anganwadi
How to open a Mahila Mandal (self-help group)
How to sensitize the community
How to work with parents in partnership
How to carry out an ecological Inventory
How to design an ecologically-enriched curriculum
How to plan an inclusive curriculum
How to build community resources
How to provide opportunities for play
How to train Anganwadi Multipurpose Workers (AMW)
How to develop aids and appliances
How to work on improving health and nutrition
How to identify children with disability
How to include children with disability

CAPP II was an outcome of the SSI/UNICEF project. For information on the SSI/UNICEF project: Inclusive Education Practice in Early Childhood in Mumbai, India supported by Canadian international Development Agency (CIDA). CAPP III was conceptualized and written by Dr. Mithu Alur and Vianne Timmons based on research studies done by the Inclusive Education Coordination Committee (IECC) and National Resource Centre for Inclusion.


The flip charts that are in text and picture format can be used to conduct interactive workshop or training sessions for teachers of preschool inclusive nurseries.  The content of the flip charts is provided in a question and answer format.

Module 1- Ideology and Philosophy
Module 2 - Early Childhood Care and Development
Physical development in children between 3 – 5 years
Educating children with speech, language and hearing difficulties
Educating children with intellectual difficulties
Educating children with visual difficulties
Health and Nutrition 

Module 3 - Inclusive Educational Inputs
Classroom Management
Strategies of teaching

Assessment and evaluation
Teaching aids
Importance of play

Module 4 - Community
Barriers in the community
Sensitization in the community
Strategies for sensitization of the community
Formulation of Mahila Mandal


CAPP III outlines the whole school approach to education.  It focuses on the micro – level of classroom and school values, culture, policies and practice. It has four major themes. Each theme is divided into sessions for school heads, teachers, parents and peers. Each session has background information, objectives, activities and evaluations. Overheads, handouts and checklists accompany each section.


“Inclusive Education Practice in Early Childhood, in Mumbai” a SSI/UNICEF Project.

Inclusive Education Practice in Early Childhood in Mumbai was a two-year action research project. The purpose of the research was to identify effective and appropriate practice for the promotion of inclusive education. As an active research project, the study involved setting up a model of inclusive pre-school classrooms, evaluation, documentation, and dissemination of the research finding. The study used both quantitative and qualitative methodology.

The Principal Investigator for this project were:

Dr. Mithu Alur - Founder Chairperson the Spastic Society of India - Mumbai
Dr Marcia Rioux - Professor, York University, Toronto, Canada

Categories of factors that were looked at during the project included

Systemic Factors (e.g. National and State Policies; entitlement to education as a right)
Pedagogical Factors (e.g. teacher training and attitudes, instructional methods, teacher supports)
Socio-environmental Factors (e.g. demographic factors in the family, community attitudes towards education and towards inclusive education, health and nutrition).


The aim of the project research was to identify effective and appropriate practices for the promotion of inclusive education. The target population was children in the age group of 0-5 years with a focus on the girl child, child with disability and socially disadvantaged child. The methodology involved in the research project included the setting up of a model of inclusive education, evaluation, documentation and dissemination.


Six anganwadis were established in the slums of Mumbai.
The project demonstrated how children with disabilities in community slums could be placed into existing government services.
The six anganwadis successfully demonstrated that inclusive education is cost effective and sustainable within a community when:
Ecologically and culturally appropriate resource materials are used
In-service training in inclusive education is provided to anganwadi teachers and workers from the local community.


Developing Sustainable Educational Inclusion Policy and Practice: A Four Nation UNESCO Project with UK, South Africa, Brazil and India

Research projects with international collaboration include the UNESCO Four Nation Research Project, aimed at understanding inclusive education, policy and practice.


In the year 2000, Dr. Alur was approached by Professor Tony Booth, University of Canterbury to head the Indian team in a Four Nation Research Project involving England, Brazil, South Africa and India. Supported by UNESCO, this was a collaborative research study on inclusive education, policy and practice in the respective countries.

The main aims were to identify the factors causing exclusion and maximize the participation of all students within the development area under an ‘Education for All’ paradigm and to build context based culture specific models of inclusion which are sustainable. It aimed to draw on the knowledge and experience of researchers and practitioners from the participating countries 1 .

The term inclusion was used on a broader perspective and referred to all children facing some sort of barriers to learning. It was not restricted to only children with special educational needs but drew in children who were socially disadvantaged.  Inclusion was defined as a process of increasing the participation of students in, and reducing their exclusion from cultures, curricula and communities.


In each country researchers identified an administrative district or sub – district within the organization of services within that country.  Two jurisdictions: Mumbai (peri urban) and Chennai (tribal) were chosen in India.

A combination of methods were used: desk research involving document analysis, field research involving observation, situational analyses, semi structured interviews, focus group discussions and photo analysis.


Some of the findings that emerged from the study were that various factors have excluded children from education. Failure to adopt the right strategy, more specifically, the large birth rate, consequent rapid growth of population which continually increased the size of the problem and the inability of Government to raise the financial resources needed to support this massive programme of Universalization of Primary Education (UPE), had led to large number of child population being left out of education.

The Disabled Child remained out of programmes. The Government’s conceptualization of the problem remained ingrained in the belief that the education and management of disabled children needed voluntary action. The Government’s conceptualization of special school for special children seemed to have become the norm. The pedagogic issues had not addressed this problem and the teachers were not aware of the needs of the disabled child.

The main barriers to learning in a national analysis emerged as a high dropout rates due to low motivation and effective teaching, the socio-economic levels necessitating that children worked. The socio cultural traditions against the girl child and the disabled child and the general low poverty allocation given to sectors, education compared to other.


Demonstration of inclusive education was critical as was the training of teachers. Each region had different context and culture specific needs and appropriate solutions needed to be worked out for each of these. This lead in some part to the development of a Code of Practice that was separate for the rural, urban, tribal and peri urban areas. However, a proper research study is still to be done. Ongoing Action Research titled “Deconstructing Work Preparedness for adult Disabled Youth Leading to Inclusive Employment.” on the basis of selective training and selective placement. It is pioneering research study aimed at developing a model that can be replicated throughout all sectors of employment. The focus here is in strategically placing employment for the disabled in the scope of CSR as a mandate.

Dr. Mithu Alur, the Principal Investigator of the research is heading the study and will be monitoring its process, outcome and publications. The Institutional Review Board will review the process of the research. The findings of the research study titled “Deconstructing Work Preparedness for the Disabled Youth Leading to Inclusive Employment” will be published within the time frame of completion of research study which is 3-5 years.

The research aims to prepare and train people with disability for corporate jobs, defying the notion that people with multiple disabilities cannot sustain being employed. With that purpose, our fundamental goal is to provide appropriate training facilities, vocational guidance and counseling, with an innovative approach of selective training and selective placement. A study will be conducted documenting the intervention strategies and the gap analysis of corporate needs. This research will create 75 unique models of employment while taking into account the proximity, the travel time, transport and suitable work schedules.

ADAPT’S commitment to quality research has proved a rich and fruitful strategy, unearthing valuable data and playing a crucial role in the evolution of our inclusion policy, as well as in the development of centres, training modules and literature.

Comprehensive coverage on ADAPT’s research can be found in the Knowledge Section database on the website and in Dr. Mithu Alur’s latest book – A Birth That Changed a Nation