The Washington Group on Disability Statistics (WG) is a United Nations Statistics Commission City Group formed of representatives of National Statistical Offices (NSOs) working on developing methods to improve statistics on persons with disabilities globally. It formed as a result of the United Nations International Seminar on Measurement of Disability that took place in New York in June 2001. The major objective of the WG is to provide information on disability that is comparable throughout the world. The Washington Group Method can be used for data disaggregation by disability in 2030-Agenda monitoring and implementation efforts.
Studies show that using the term ‘disability’ in data collection can lead to unreliable data, because of respondents being reluctant to reveal their functional limitations and because of the stigma still widely attached. Data collectors should avoid any verbal references to ‘disability’ in an introductory statement.
The Washington Group has produced several sets of questions for the use in censuses and surveys designed to identify persons with functional limitations. The WG Short Set of questions can be rapidly and easily deployed in a variety of settings. Respondents aren’t asked yes or no questions but can chose between 1. No difficulty 2. Some difficulty 3. A lot of difficulty and 4. Cannot do at all.
The six Washington Group short set Questions are:
Do you have difficulty seeing, even if wearing glasses?
Do you have difficulty hearing, even if using a hearing aid?
Do you have difficulty walking or climbing steps?
Do you have difficulty remembering or concentrating?
Do you have difficulty with self-care such as washing all over or dressing?
Using your usual (customary) language, do you have difficulty communicating, for example, understanding or being understood?
The WG short set has the limitation of not addressing psychosocial or intellectual disabilities and it can miss a significant number of children with developmental or psychosocial issues. For a question set aimed at identifying a fuller range of childhood disabilities there is a Child Functioning Question Set, developed in conjunction with UNICEF. Since being developed, the sets have been translated into various languages.