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UN Programme on Disability   Working for full participation and equality

Implementation of the World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons

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CONTENTS

I. Introduction

II. Overview of recent policy and programme activities

III. International norms and standards related to persons with disabilities

IV. Data and statistics concerning persons with disabilities

V. Accessibility at United Nations Headquarters

VI. United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability

Addendum

I. Analytical review of progress in equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities

II. United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability

Annexes

I. United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability: projects supported

II. Projects co-financed in cooperation with the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND)

IV. Data and statistics concerning persons with disabilities

A. Activities of the United Nations Statistics Division

27. In paragraph 5 of its resolution 52/82, the General Assembly requested Governments to cooperate with the United Nations Statistics Division to improve statistics and indicators on disability. Implementation and monitoring of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons as well as the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities place great demands on countries and international organizations for the development of data and statistics. Knowing the numbers of persons with disabilities in a country and monitoring equality of opportunity and achievements made in terms of economic, social, political and cultural rights requires an enormous amount of current and reliable data.11

28. One major set of activities concerns the improvement of statistical concepts, methods and data-collection programmes. The key initiative in the Division's methodological work during 1998-1999 is the preparation of the guidelines and principles for the development of impairment, disability and handicap statistics. This publication is directed to statistical offices and research organizations, and provides guidelines on the collection of impairment, disability and handicap (IDH) statistics in national censuses and surveys, and their analysis and dissemination for policy purposes. Preparation of the handbook has been supported by the Central Bureau of Statistics of the Netherlands, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability. The expected publication date is mid-2000. The document complements the Manual for the Development of Statistical Information for Disability Programmes and Policies,12 which is aimed at a wider audience. The Manual, published in 1996 in English, has since been published in Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish and Russian.

29. Disability was also included as a topic for the first time in the revision of the Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses.13 The Principles and Recommendations were published in English in 1998 and subsequently in Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish and Russian.

30. The Statistics Division is cooperating with WHO in the development and testing of the International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps - Beta-2 (ICIDH-2).14 It also is working with the United States National Center for Health Statistics to develop standard procedures for coding disability data to the ICIDH-2.

31. The second principal set of activities concerns the compilation and dissemination of statistical data on disability to make these available to a wide set of users. A first output will be a Web site on the United Nations Statistics Division home page on the Internet (http://www.un.org/Depts/unsd), containing statistics on national prevalence of disability by sex and age, scheduled for publication before the end of 1999. The data are part of the Disability Statistics Database (DISTAT), version 2, which is currently being prepared. DISTAT, version 2, includes data from over 100 countries, up from 55 in the previous version, and about 186 studies, more than double those in DISTAT, version 1. Given new developments in database software, DISTAT 2 is a more flexible system than the previous version. The next phase of work on DISTAT 2 will involve developing dissemination plans and data checking. It will begin late in 1999 once the Internet site is completed. This work has been supported by SIDA and the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability, and has been undertaken in cooperation with the Disability Unit of the Division for Social Policy and Development.

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B. Selected activities of non-governmental organizations

32. As part of the follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development, the Danish Council of Organizations of Disabled People (DSI) commissioned in 1995 the Institute of Political Science at Aarhus University to develop an index through which implementation of the United Nations Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities could be monitored. The project was funded by the Danish Development Agency, Danida. The index consists of 25 questions about the 22 Rules. Because so much importance is given to access (Rule V), education (Rule VI) and employment (Rule VII), two questions are included on each of these. Each question is to be answered by rating the degree of fulfilment on a scale from 0 to 6, with a maximum possible score of 150 points. By adding all 25 scores and dividing the total by 1.5, a country's result is obtained. As reported in Disability'99: The World Disability Report,15 published by the International Disability Foundation, statistics from 46 countries have been analysed by the University of Aarhus. Their findings indicate that just over half of the surveys in support of the index have been conducted in "industrialized countries" and 25 per cent are from developing countries, which suggests strong global awareness of the human rights of persons with disabilities.16

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Notes:

11 The need for conceptual and methodological work on data and statistics concerning persons with disabilities is suggested by the discussion on data collection and development of indicators in the social and economic sectors, which notes that sample surveys and qualitative studies are not always large enough to provide reliable estimates on indicators or such characteristics as disability that affect a very small proportion of the population (see E/1999/11, para. 20 (b)).

12 United Nations publication, Sales No. E.96.XVII.4.

13 ST/ESA/STAT/SER.M/67/Rev.1.

14 ICIDH-2, at: http://www.who.int/icidh.

15 London, The Winchester Group for the International Disability Foundation, 1999.

16 See ibid. pp. 19-20; see also "Rating the rules", by H. Kallehauge, President of the Danish Association of Polio and Accident Victims, at: http://www.dpi.org/rating.html.

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United Nations, 2003-04
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Division for Social Policy and Development