FAQ history, organisation and membership

Who are the WG?

Short Answer
The Washington Group (WG) is a non-funded working group under the auspices of the United Nations Statistical Commission. The WG was authorised and formed in Washington DC in 2001, where the group takes its name. The primary purpose for formation was to address the issue that statistical and methodological work was needed at an international level in order to facilitate the comparison of data on disability cross-nationally.

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

More information can be found on the Members and Organisation page 


Who is entitled to be a WG member and how?

Short Answer
Membership is open to any United Nations Member State. If you are interested in attending a meeting or organising training you should contact The Secretariat on wg_secretariat@cdc.gov

Who has endorsed the WG questions?

Short Answer 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 post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.


Which countries have used the WG?

Short Answer
 Since 2001 over 136 countries have attended at least 1 annual WG meeting.

The Conceptual Framework page outlines countries that have used the WG Short set in a national data collection project as well as countries that have undertaken cognitive and/or field testing of the short set and/or extended set on function.

Available results from the national data collection projects or cognitive / field testing are posted on the Use in Censuses and Surveys page.  


What is the purpose of the WG?

Short Answer
A detailed explanation of the purpose of disability measurement can be found on the Purpose of Disability Measurement page

In summary:

  • Monitor the Population: Monitoring functioning levels is important for two purposes: 1) Understanding the scope of potential concerns relating to disability, and 2) Evaluating interventions designed to prevent or minimize physical and cognitive limitations, activity limitation and participation restrictions.
  • Service Provision: Another important purpose is for designing and implementing services for people with disabilities, either general services that are being made more inclusive, or specific services targeted for people with disabilities. This purpose requires more extensive information than monitoring the functioning of the population, and cannot be served by censuses.
  • Equalization of Opportunities: This purpose is being able to disaggregate population data by disability to determine if socioeconomic outcomes (e.g., education, employment, and poverty) are different for people with disabilities compared to their non-disabled peers.


Can I become a member of a working group?

Short Answer If you are interested in becoming a member of a working group you should contact The Secretariat on wg_secretariat@cdc.gov


This page was updated on: Thursday, February 25, 2016