Washington Group on Disability Statistics

The Washington Group on Disability Statistics (WG) is a UN city group established under the United Nations Statistical Commission. The WG was constituted to address the urgent need for cross-nationally comparable population based measures of disability. Its mandate is the promotion and co-ordination of international co-operation in the area of health statistics focusing on disability data collection tools suitable for censuses and national surveys.

The WG has sought to foster international collaboration, and in particular, to insure that its efforts are broad-based and inclusive of voices from developing countries from every region of the world. Representatives of National Statistical Offices around the world, as well as Disabled People’s Organizations (DPO), and other international organizations are encouraged to participate in the WG.

With funding from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade the Washington Group on Disability Statistics (WG) is launching this new website, with the support of the Leonard Cheshire Research Centre at University College London.

New Blog “Disability data for effective policy design: reflections from the TEACh project in Pakistan“ now available … New Implementation Guidelines now available…

A new blog by Dan Mont on “Why Global Health & Functioning Indicators Like the GALI Are Not Suitable for Disaggregation” is now available online

A joint statement was released by UNSD and the Washington Group on their commitment to collaborate closely to achieve further improvements in disability statistics. UNSD WG Joint Statement [pdf]

The 17th Annual Meeting was held in Sydney, Australia at the end of October. Meeting proceedings are now available online.

6 new guidelines to implementing and analysing the WG Qs have been published

Website analytics indicate that the WG website has been visited by users from 197 of the 200 nations (as defined by Google)

methodology2question-setsDigital Training

Over the past 15 years the WG has developed and tested several tools to be used for the collection of internationally comparable disability statistics.  Products developed by the WG include a Short Set of Six Questions on functioning designed primarily for censuses; Extended Set of Questions on Functioning for surveys; and, in collaboration with The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), a survey module on Child Functioning. While the latter is still in the testing phase of development, the Short and Extended sets have been fully tested and adopted.

The Short Set of Questions has been recommended by the United Nations and the Council of European Statisticians as the means to collect information on disability in the upcoming 2020 round of censuses. Furthermore, this set of questions has been endorsed by an Expert Group under the auspices of United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) as the means to disaggregate by disability status for evaluating the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Washington Group is currently funded by a grant from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Secretariat is based at United States National Center for Health Statistics. The WG also has a close working partnership the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre at University College London.

Priorities of the Washington Group

  1. Promote and coordinate international cooperation in the area of health statistics by focusing on disability measures suitable for censuses and national surveys.
  2. Provide basic necessary information on disability which is comparable throughout the world.
  3. Recommend one or more extended sets of survey items to measure disability to be used as components of population surveys or as supplements to speciality surveys.
  4. Disseminates WG materials through the world-wide web and scientific publications to foster inclusion of disability in international development and global health efforts.


The Secretariat for the Washington Group on Disability Statistics is located at the National Center for Health Statistics in the US. For all inquiries regarding the Washington Group please contact the Secretariat at: WG_secretariat@cdc.gov

Please note that this website is still under development; check back regularly to find new content and information. Every effort is being made to continually improve the accessibility of this website. If you encounter any issues or require help with this site please contact the Project Coordinator emma.bird[@]ucl.ac.uk and your request will be dealt with promptly.

Leonard Cheshire Disability Inclusive Development Centre is hosting the work of the WG Secretariat; it is responsible for coordinating and tracking the progress of the four year work plan. Professor Nora Groce serves as Director of this project. More about this project

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