Three main purposes for the collection of disability data have been identified:
- Monitor the Population: to understand the scope of disability in a population for evaluating policies and interventions designed to address disability in the population.
- Service Provision: seeks to identify those with specific needs in order that services are designed and implemented to meet those needs. Interventions might be general – servicing the entire population (i.e., universal design), or specific - targeted for people more specific needs (e.g., wheelchair users). Addressing service provision requires more extensive information than monitoring the functioning of the population, and cannot be served by censuses.
- Equalization of Opportunities: assesses whether persons with disability are participating in social and economic life at the same level as persons without disability, This is accomplished by disaggregating population data by disability status to determine if important outcomes (e.g., access to education and employment) are different for people with disabilities compared to their non-disabled peers.