02.12.2015 December 3rd with a focus on improving disability data and statistics


Tomorrow, December 3rd is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which has been celebrated since 1992 with the aim to promote awareness and advocate for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society and development. This year’s theme is on “Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities.” The United Nations Headquarters in New York is hosting a full-day event with various activities centered on the aforementioned theme as well as sub-themes that include:

  • Making cities inclusive and accessible for all
  • Including persons with invisible disabilities in society and development
  • Improving disability data and statistics

With a focus on the last sub-theme, the UN will host discussions on improving and disseminating rigorous disability data collection, identifying key challenges, and mapping out strategies to involve persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in these important processes.

The collection of disability data in line with international standards is important for creating disability-inclusive development policy, planning, and implementation. For example, if disaggregation of data by disability is included in national surveys, the subsequent data collected can be used for the implementation and monitoring of Agenda 2030.

Disaggregation of data by disability is important since it helps to identify existing gaps for persons with disabilities who all too often experience higher rates of poverty and exclusion from society throughout the world. Identifying these gaps is an important first step in addressing these issues by creating disability-inclusive policies.

Disaggregating data by disability only requires the addition of a small set of questions on already existing data instruments. For example, the Washington Group on Disability Statistics has developed a set of 6 questions that identify persons with disabilities for disaggregation purposes in an internationally comparable way. Moreover, the UN Disability Data Experts Group has recommended using the Washington Group questions for disaggregating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and for monitoring the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

The chapeau (introduction) of the final IAEG Report on global SDG indicators will include a statement on disaggregation of data that includes disability. This is a very positive step forward, yet we must continue to advocate for disaggregation of data by disability in the global, regional, and national SDG-linked indicators for a fully inclusive Agenda. In particular, we need a disability data revolution in which persons with disabilities can actively participate in measuring relevant Agenda 2030 achievements.

Please stay tuned for a recap of the upcoming December 3rd events at the UN in New York and follow live updates from my Twitter account @LockwoodEM