2.6.2 Tools for data collection
The need for accurate and comparable disaggregated data led to the development of standardised questions to be used in censuses and surveys. By using the same set of questions, the results of different surveys can be meaningfully compared. This principle was recognised by the United Nations Statistical Commission and led to the development of the Washington Group on Disability Statistics. This group has developed sets of standard questions that can be used in English or translated into other languages. The ‘short set’ on human functioning is shown in Box 2.2. Note the questions ask about difficulties with six core functions but do not use the word ‘disability’.
Box 2.2 Washington Group’s short set of questions on disability
The questions ask about difficulties doing certain activities because of a health problem.
- Do you have difficulty seeing, even if wearing glasses?
- Do you have difficulty hearing, even if using a hearing aid?
- Do you have difficulty walking or climbing steps?
- Do you have difficulty remembering or concentrating?
- Do you have difficulty (with self-care such as) washing all over or dressing?
- Using your usual (customary) language, do you have difficulty communicating, for example understanding or being understood?
For each question, the respondent has a choice of four possible replies:
- a.No – no difficulty
- b.Yes – some difficulty
- c.Yes – a lot of difficulty
- d.Cannot do at all
(Note: For further information about how to use the Washington Group questions including methodology, question sets, implementation guidelines, etc., see)
The Washington Group questions provide disaggregated data about the number of people with different types of disability but they are not specific to inclusion in WASH. Measuring the inclusiveness of WASH facilities requires additional data collection and, although this was rare in the past, it is gradually being incorporated in data gathering activities. For example, the Ministry of Education published a report in 2017 of a schools’ WASH mapping exercise to collect data from all regions of Ethiopia about the numbers and types of latrine facilities in schools. The survey reported that 35.9% of the 33,232 primary schools in Ethiopia had latrines that were accessible to children with physical disabilities (MoE, 2017a).
The lack of accurate data about people with disabilities and inclusion is likely to change in the future. The Sustainable Development Goals put greater emphasis on inclusion of people with disabilities in the targets to end poverty and hunger. This will provide an incentive to improve monitoring and reporting about disability and inclusion at national and international levels.