Definition of Disability

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) recognizes that ‘disability is an evolving concept’ (UNCRPD, 2006, p. 1), and defines persons with disabilities as those who have ‘long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’ (UNCRPD, 2006, p. 4).

By focusing data collection on those who have difficulty in carrying out a few basic, universal activities, the Washington Group (WG) seeks to identify those who would be at greater risk than the general population of social exclusion (for example not able to access education or employment) if their environment was unaccommodating.