Eighth meeting: Manila, 29-31 October 2008

29/10/2008 - 31/10/2008


The eighth meeting of the Washington Group on Disability Statistics was held October 29-31 in Manila, Philippines hosted by the Philippine National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) and the Philippine National Statistics Office (NSO). With the work on the short set of disability questions for censuses recently completed, the major topic on the agenda for the 8th meeting turned to work on the extended sets.

The Extended Set Workgroup was charged with developing an extended question set (or sets) for use in surveys and survey modules with the intended purpose of assessing equalization of opportunities. It was agreed that as a first step this workgoup would address expanding upon the set of domains already covered in the short set, adding supplementary questions within domains (cause, age at onset, duration), begin a discussion on how best to capture environmental factors and explore different ways to measure participation. The WG worked in collaboration with the Budapest Initiative, Eurostat and UNESCAP on development of the extended set/s.

Methodological issues were raised during the 8th Meeting concerning the development of questions for children and institutionalized populations and the use of proxy respondents. WG representatives from Canada and France volunteered to look at the work being done in the areas of children and institutionalized populations, respectively, within their regions and prepare reports to be presented at the 9th WG meeting. The group is hopeful that some of the issues related to use of proxy respondents will be raised during the field testing of the proposed extended sets of questions.

In addition to updates on other Washington Group related activities, the United Nations Statistical Division, UN affiliates, and the World Bank reported on their recent activities related to disability statistics, and the Steering Committee chair led a discussion on strategic issues including planning next steps.


  1. Present proposal for extended set questions.
  2. WG activities and overlap with the work of other disability data collection initiatives
  3. Special methodological considerations
    • Children with disabilities
    • Institutionalized populations
  4. Discussion of strategic issues


Papers and Presentations

Session 1: Opening remarks

Welcoming remarks; practical information; review of developments since the last meeting; and review of the objectives and agenda for the 8th meeting.

Session 2: Development of Extended Question Sets

This session focused on the development of the Extended question sets. The purpose and goals for the development of the Extended question set(s) were presented along with an overview of the Matrix that was prepared to form the basis, and guide in the development, of the questions.

The rationale for collaboration with the Budapest Initiative, Eurostat, UNESCAP and other groups was covered. The Workgroup on Extended Measurement Sets presented the framework used to develop the question sets and the approach taken. Proposed questions in each domain are presented, followed by a discussion of the questions.


  1. Background and guiding principles to the Extended Sets [pdf]
  2. Notes of the Matrix [pdf]
  3. The Matrix Framework (2008) [pdf]
  4. WG Proposed Extended Sets for Disability [pdf]

Session 3: Cognitive and Field Testing

A testing protocol was presented based on similar developments in the UNESCAP project. Feedback was requested from WG member country representatives regarding the possibility of participating in Extended set field and cognitive testing activities.

Session 4: Methodological Issues Concerning Surveys

This session summarized the methodological issues that continue to face the WG, including the use of proxy respondents, the development of questions for children and institutionalized populations. In addition, papers were presented that were developed to introduce the WG to Disabled Peoples’ Organizations and National Statistical Offices, a paper on Monitoring the UN Convention and a draft paper on utilizing the WG Short Set of Questions.

  1. WG report to Disabled Person’s Organizations (DPOs) [pdf]
  2. WG Report to National Statistics Offices (NSOs) [pdf]
  3. Monitoring the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability [pdf]
  4. Understanding and Interpreting Disability [pdf]
    Note: This information has been updated as of August 3, 2010.

Session 5: Updates on Other Washington Group and Collaborative Activities 

This session included updates and presentations of UNESCAP, Budapest Initiative and World Bank activities, as well as a presentation of further analysis of the results from the Irish census. A report from the meeting of the Bridging Task Group of the WHO-Functioning and Disability Reference Group and the WG was also presented.

Session 6: Country Reports

A summary of country reports, country experiences and results using the WG Short measure questions was presented in this session. This session also included a presentation and discussion of the application of the WG Short set of questions in the up-coming round of censuses-including issues of adapting to regional, cultural context and training.

Session 7: Potential Funding Opportunities

An overview of the European Union’s (EU) 7th Framework Program and the opportunities it may offer in furthering WG objectives through funded research was presented during this session.

Session 8: Next Steps and Objectives for the 9th Meeting in Tanzania

Updates on WG governance issues and a summary of the accomplishments of the 8th meeting were provided during this session. This session also included an outline of the next steps and the announcement the dates and location of the 9th meeting. Volunteers were solicited to host the 10th WG meeting.

Session 9: Next Steps with Reference to the Extended Question Sets

Plans for the next steps relative to Extended measure, data analysis, and methodological issues were discussed during this session.

Executive Summary

Extended Sets Workgroup

A small working group consisting of members from the Washington Group (WG) and Budapest Initiative (BI) met for 3 days in July 2008 at the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) in Hyattsville, MD. The goal of this meeting was to draft a proposed set of extended questions to be presented at the 8th WG meeting in the Philippines. The initial approach taken by the workgroup was to expand on the 6 domains (Vision, Hearing, Cognition, Mobility, Self Care, and Communication) addressed in the WG Short Set. The focus was to look at questions that already existed and determine how the WG work was related to the work of other groups: Budapest Initiative (BI), Eurostat, and UNESCAP. At this meeting, a “Matrix”, designed as a framework for the development of the extended questions, was presented.

At the 8th WG meeting in Manila representatives from the workgroup provided the outcomes from the July meeting including an overview the “Matrix” and the proposed set of extended questions. The presentation included outlining the rationale and framework used to develop the extended question sets. As part of the presentation and discussion each of the proposed questions was reviewed in detail. The strengths and limitations of asking each question and corresponding answer categories as proposed were debated. In many cases, the conclusion was that multiple versions of the questions should be tested during cognitive and field testing.

Cognitive and Field Testing

Cognitive and field testing of the proposed extended sets are expected to take place in early 2009. The combined testing exercises will be done in collaboration with UNESCAP. Cognitive testing interviewer training took place in February 2009 in Bangkok. For the cognitive testing phase, participating countries are asked to conduct approximately 20 interviews. A small group plan to meet following the cognitive testing to conduct preliminary analysis of the results. Results from the cognitive tests will be used to inform the field testing. A sample of approximately 1,000 interviews is recommended for the field testing.

The main objectives of the field testing are to test:

  1. the relationship between the WG Short and Extended Sets
  2. cross country comparability
  3. the individual hypotheses arising from cognitive testing and translation

The results from both the cognitive and field tests will be documented and presented at the 9th meeting of the WG. Country representatives from national statistics offices were encouraged to volunteer to participate in the cognitive and field testing. (Postscript: the 7 countries participating in the testing include: Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Fiji, Maldives, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Philippines.)