Washington Group on Disability Statistics

Washington Group on Disability Statistics

Background Information

The mandate for the Washington Group on Disability Measurement grew out of the initial work begun at the United Nations International Seminar on Measurement of Disability in New York on June 4-6, 2001.

The U.N. meeting brought together a broad array of experts in disability measurement for statistical reporting from developed and developing countries. The participants at this meeting:

  • Reviewed the current status of methods used in population-based data collection activities to measure disability in national statistical systems with special attention to questionnaire design.
  • Developed recommendations and priorities to advance work on measurement of disability.
  • Contributed to building a network of institutions and experts, including producers and users of disability statistics to implement the developments in this field.

Participants included representatives from national statistical offices and disability measurement experts from academic settings. Representatives of the disability community, users of disability data, survey methodologists and international organizations – whose work is consistent with the objectives of the meeting – also participated. The seminar brought together approximately 100 country representatives.

The following themes and recommendations were generated by the participants:

  • That the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) be used as the framework for measurement of disability in future work.
  • That principles and standard forms for global indicators to be used in censuses be developed;
  • That principles for measuring the participation and environment components of the ICF be developed since those are areas still in early stages of development;
  • That emphasis be placed on improving the comparability of disability data cross-nationally while being sensitive to the cultural and resource differences encountered among different nations.
  • That attention be focused on issues associated with measuring disability among special populations such as children, elderly, institutionalized populations, and others;
  • That methodological problems including issues of self vs. proxy respondents, multipoint scale cut points, negative terminology, and others depending on interest and time be examined;
  • That additional work be done on survey instruments for health surveys and survey supplements to be used in surveys that do not focus primarily on disability as time or interest allow; and
  • That stakeholder and data users be included in these activities and that exchange of information and establishment of guidelines for the use of data and development of working relationships and networks among countries to further cooperation on disability data topics be stressed.

As a result of the seminar, the United Nations Statistical Commission authorized the development of a City Group, which will focus on two to four topic areas associated with measurement of disability. The National Center for Health Statistics, the official health statistics agency of the United States, was invited to host; first meeting to take place in Washington, DC. A planning group was formed by the United Nations Statistics Division to work on planning the first meeting.

First Meeting

  • Products from First Meeting
  • Participants from First Meeting
  • Planning Group for the First Meeting
    United States, Australia, Mexico, Uganda, and Luxembourg (representing EUROSTAT).
  • Planning Group for the Second Meeting
    Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, EUROSTAT, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Uganda, and the United States.