About the WG

A Short History on the Question Sets Developed by the Washington Group

In 2001, the International Seminar on the Measurement of Disability was held in New York. During this meeting participants agreed that existing data on disability, especially in low and middle-income countries, were scarce and often of poor quality. The participants further recognized that there was need for common definitions, concepts, standards and methodologies in statistics about persons with disability, as well as a need for internationally comparable, high quality disability data collection. The Seminar recommended the development of standard indicators using population-based measures of disability for country use and for international comparisons.

To address this urgent need, the Washington Group on Disability Statistics (WG) was formed as a United Nations Statistical Commission City Group. The WG, like all City Groups, invites representatives from all national statistical agencies to participate in addressing the statistical challenges to collecting valid, reliable and cross-nationally comparable data on disability, and to developing methods to improve statistics on persons with disabilities globally. In this work, NSOs are joined by various international agencies and experts including UN agencies (e.g., UNICEF, ILO, World Bank), bilateral aid agencies (e.g., DFID, DFAT, USAID), NGOs (e.g., Humanity & Inclusion, Sightsavers), Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs), and researchers.

From 2015 to 2020, the Australian government’s Department of Finance and Trade (DFAT) provided funding for administrative support to the Washington Group. Hosted through the International Disability Research Centre at University College London (UCL), the DFAT grant helped support dissemination of the Washington Group materials, training, travel and research to improve accuracy in the collection, analysis and use of disability statistics. DFAT funding also supported UCL to maintain this website.

The main purpose of the WG is the promotion and coordination of international cooperation in generating statistics on disability suitable for censuses and national surveys. Its major objective is to provide basic information on disability that is comparable worldwide.


The Washington Group Primer