Validating the UNICEF/Washington Group Child Functioning Module for Fijian schools to identify seeing, hearing and walking difficulties

Beth Sprunt, Monsurul Hoq, Umesh Sharma, Manjula Marella

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    Purpose: This study investigated the seeing, hearing and walking questions of the UNICEF/Washington Group Child Functioning Module and the inter-rater reliability between teachers and parents as proxy respondents. Methods: Cross-sectional diagnostic accuracy study, two-gate design with representative sampling, comparing Module responses to reference standard assessments for 472 primary aged students in Fiji. Receiver operating characteristic curves were constructed to determine the area under the curve and optimal cut-off points. Results: Areas under the curves ranged from 0.823 to 0.889 indicating “good” diagnostic accuracy. Inter-rater reliability between parent and teacher responses was “good” to “excellent”. The optimal cut-off determined by the Youden Index was “some difficulty” however a wide spread of impairment levels were found in this category with most children either having none or substantial impairments. Conclusions: The diagnostic accuracy of the Module seeing, hearing and walking questions appears acceptable with either parents or teachers as proxy respondents. For education systems, use of the cut-off “some difficulty” with accompanying clinical assessment may be important to capture children who require services and learning supports and avoid potentially misleading categorization. Given the high proportion of the sample from special schools research is required to further test the Module in mainstream schools.Implications for rehabilitationIdentification of children who are at risk of disability in Fiji is important to enable planning, monitoring and evaluating access to quality inclusive education.The UNICEF/Washington Group Child Functioning Module appears to be a practical and effective tool that can be used by teachers to identify children at risk of disability.Children identified on the UNICEF/Washington Group Child Functioning Module as having “some difficulty” or higher levels of difficulty in relation to vision, hearing or walking should be referred for further assessment and services.Rehabilitation services in Fiji need to prepare for greater numbers of referrals as the Ministry of Education increasingly rolls out the inclusive education policy, which includes identification by schools of children at risk of disability.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)201-211
    Number of pages11
    JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    • Child disability
    • disability disaggregation
    • inclusive education

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