Ninth meeting: Dar es Salaam, 7-9 October 2009

07/10/2009 - 09/10/2009


The 9th Meeting of the Washington Group on Disability Statistics was held October 7-9 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania hosted by the Tanzanian National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The 8th Meeting of the Washington Group held in Manila introduced the Extended Set of Questions, the Matrix that guided their development and the plans for Cognitive and Field Testing of the proposed set of Extended Questions. The major topic on the agenda for the 9th meeting was the presentation and discussion of the results from the Cognitive Tests and preliminary results from the Field Testing of the Extended Question Sets.

Issues of methodology with respect to special populations such as children with disabilities and institutionalized persons were also introduced at the 9th Meeting.

In addition to reports on other Washington Group related activities, updates were provided on behalf of the United Nations Statistical Division, UN affiliates, and the World Bank with respect to their recent activities related to disability statistics, and the Steering Committee chair led a discussion on strategic issues including planning next step


  1. Present the results of the cognitive and field testing of the proposed extended set of 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

Detailed Meeting Program

Papers and Presentations

Session 1: Opening Session

Welcoming remarks; practical information; review of developments since the last meeting; and review of the objectives and agenda for the 9th meeting.

Session 2: Cognitive Testing of the Extended Question Sets

The Matrix that guided the development of Extended set questions was introduced at the eighth meeting in Manila. A draft of the Extended set questions and plans for cognitive and field testing of the questions were also presented in Manila. Both of these documents were revised, edited and updated after the Manila meeting and in preparation for the anticipated cognitive and field testing. The revised Matrix was re-introduced at the ninth meeting and the meeting then focused primarily on the presentation and discussion of results from the cognitive tests and preliminary field tests results.


  1. The Matrix (Workplan for the development of the Extended Question Sets) [pdf]
  2. The Joint Washington Group/ESCAP Cognitive Test Protocol (available upon request)
  3. The Joint Washington Group/ESCAP Field Test Questionnaire (available upon request)

Cognitive and Field Testing

Training for the Cognitive and Field Testing of the proposed Extended Sets took place in Bangkok, Thailand in February 2009. The combined testing exercises were carried out in collaboration with UNESCAP. For the cognitive testing phase, participating countries were asked to conduct approximately 20 interviews. After the interviews were completed, the interview data was entered into Q-Notes, a software tool designed for on-line data entry and analysis. A small group met following the cognitive testing in May in Washington to discuss the preliminary analysis of the cognitive testing results. Six countries participated in the cognitive/field testing workshop: Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Philippines. In addition, Canada, the United States and South Africa also conducted cognitive tests of the Extended Set and these were also incorporated into the analysis of results.

Results from the cognitive tests were used to inform the field testing. A combined sample of approximately 1,000 interviews for each country was recommended for the field testing.

The main objectives of the field testing were to test:

  • the relationship between the WG Short and Extended Sets
  • cross country comparability
  • the hypotheses arising from cognitive testing and translation

At the ninth meeting, for each domain the question set used in the cognitive test was presented. This was followed by a discussion of the results of the cognitive test and how these results impacted on the development of a field test instrument for that domain. Preliminary results from the field tests in two of the participating UNESCAP countries (Maldives and Sri Lanka) were presented.

Session 3: Methodological Issues Concerning Surveys

This session focused on some methodological issues that continue to face the WG, including, the development of questions for children and institutionalized populations. The issue of designing questions for the measurement environmental barriers was also discussed.

Session 4: Country Reports

A summary of the annual reports on national activities related to disability statistics was provided. 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 5: WG Documents for Consideration

Two documents drafted by members of the WG Secretariat and Steering Committee were circulated for review and comments. The first document is a paper on understanding and interpreting disability as measured using the WG Short Set of Questions. This document was originally presented as a draft paper at the eighth meeting and has since been finalized. The second paper was drafted at the request of several WG representatives and concerns the application of the WG Short set of questions in the up-coming round of censuses.


  1. Understanding and Interpreting Disability [pdf]
  2. Recommendations for the 2010 Round of Census

Session 6: Next Steps and Objectives for the 10th Meeting in Luxembourg

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 10th meeting. Volunteers were solicited to host the 11th WG meeting

Executive Summary

Report to the UN Statistical Commission

Workgroup Contacts

Two workgroups have been formed to address some unresolved methodological issues. The workgroups will present status reports at the 10th meeting of the WG. Chairs have been identified for each workgroup. The chairs serve as the contact for each group. Information on the workgroup topics and chairs is provided below. WG members who wish to volunteer to participate in one of these groups are to contact the workgroup chairs.

Workgroup on Child Disability

Chair: Susan Stobert, Canada
This workgroup will assess the applicability of the short set of questions for children; determine the age at which the questions are meaningful by evaluating the test data from children; and develop specific question modules for children.

Workgroup on Environmental Factors

Chair: Barbara Altman, USA
This workgroup is charged with designing extended set questions for the measurement of environmental factors including both barriers and facilitators.