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UN Programme on Disability   Working for full participation and equality
Theme: Statistics, Data and Evaluation, and Monitoring
Programme Monitoring and Evaluation; The Disability Perspective in the Context of Development

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B. Recommendations

1. Data and statistical development

To implement the World Programme, current and reliable data are essential both for policy formulation and evaluation. While data improvements noted in the concluding remarks have been substantial, data for comparative analyses across time and across countries are somewhat limited. However, data collection programmes in developing countries provide extensive opportunities to promote the use of new statistical concepts and methods. The case studies for Zambia and Tunisia showed two countries that have already produced useful data to measure progress towards the equalization of opportunities.

The United Nations revised census recommendations for the first time cover the topic of disability and these recommendations are applicable to both censuses and surveys. If these recommendations are applied to the 2000 round of censuses, great strides will occur in the availability of disability statistics for analysis and planning at all levels. Technical cooperation, training and exchanges of information can make the critical difference in the development of these statistics in countries.

Countries are urged to consider the development of statistics related to the target areas in the Standard Rules and to the environments encountered by disabled persons. With respect to national work on the development of statistical indicators, data should be collected and published on prevalence rates by gender and age, type of disability and rural/urban residence, living in household or institution, size of household, marital status, school attendance, educational attainment and activity status. Countries are urged to place priority on the tabulation and dissemination of statistics on disability, including data showing the situation of persons, as described above, with disability in relation to those without disability.

As in the policy, programme and implementation strategy areas, it is critical that the United Nations continue to provide leadership in Programme monitoring and evaluation. In this regard it is important that the Statistics Division of the United Nations Secretariat be provided with resources appropriate to engage in a variety of activities with countries, such as (a) routine revisions of DISTAT, (b) technical assistance on request for the collection and analysis of disability data, (c) systematic electronic storage of data reported by countries, (d) regular publication of technical monographs on data collection and analysis, as well as compendiums and technical manuals for the DISTAT and (e) data and information support for activities of the Division for Social Policy and Development in connection with Programme monitoring and evaluation. DISTAT represents an important system-wide resource for monitoring at the international level, particularly of the situation of disabled persons in countries. Work by the Statistics Division on version 2 of DISTAT should be appropriately strengthened on an urgent basis.

2. Further work on indicators for monitoring and evaluation

As data are developed, countries are urged to consider the Long-term Strategy for monitoring and evaluation. Organizations of disabled persons and their families should be actively involved in the process of developing and implementing these evaluation activities. Monitoring activities should consider all of the dimensions mentioned previously - socio-economic outputs, environmental variables, disability-specific variables, variables on access and empowerment, programme outputs and programme inputs. The situation of persons with disabilities should be assessed within the framework of the ICIDH. To assess equalization of opportunities, countries are urged to explore adapting the Handicap classification from the ICIDH to measure variables related to information exchange, independence, mobility, use of time, social integration, economic self-sufficiency and transition outcomes. Where resources permit, countries should use the Impairment classification, particularly in relation to prevention goals. When resources are scarce, it is recommended that countries consider placing a priority on monitoring the situation of disabled persons related to education and employment or on areas where they are prepared to take action based on the results of the evaluation activities.

To support country-level monitoring activities, the United Nations is urged to continue work on the development of techniques for monitoring variables related to the environment and to access and empowerment. For example, environmental variables should be incorporated into the revision of the ICIDH framework. The United Nations should also commit to routinely monitoring and publishing the number of countries that have implemented ILO Convention Number159 and provisions of the Salamanca Statement and the Framework for Action on Special Needs Education. Other routine measures should include the number of countries that have adopted each of the Standard Rules, the number of rural areas with CBR and the percentage distribution of the causes of avoidable impairments. The United Nations should routinely publish measures to promote accessibility to United Nations facilities and organizations for persons with disabilities.

Turning from monitoring to indicators, it is recommended that countries consider establishing disability indicators, as well as provide support for the comprehensive measurement of those indicators. Variables and indicators need to be selected and measured periodically. Such indicators should refer both to specific disability initiatives and to broader national initiatives that may impact on persons with disabilities. As with Programme monitoring activities, organizations of disabled persons should be actively involved in this process.

Indicators clearly need to be linked to short-term and medium-term targets as well as to selected legal and policy instruments for equalization of opportunities. These desired linkages mean that programme administrative data should be considered as a tool for monitoring and should be linked to census and survey data. The specific trade-offs due to scarce resources need to be clearly addressed and resolved. This requires a clear identification of the kind of data that are being employed for indicators and the provision of clear information on their strengths and weaknesses.

3. National capacity building

a) Regarding disability-sensitive policies and programmes

In the years since the end of the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons, three major policy documents were adopted by the international community: the Standard Rules, the Long-term Strategy and the Salamanca Statement with the Framework for Action. These documents respectively provide target areas to achieve equalization of opportunities, a specific implementation strategy and specific goals and strategies for children relating to education.

There is an urgent need to implement the principles outlined in these United Nations resolutions and related international instruments. Whatever obstacles exist to block implementation, they do not appear to arise from flaws inherent in these resolutions, nor in the World Programme of Action. The World Programme continues to provide a valid and vital framework for policy design and advocacy. Indeed, any resources that would be directed to amending the Programme or the Rules might distract resources from their implementation. It is recommended that emphasis be placed on implementation, within the framework suggested in the Long-term Strategy, and not on revisions to international instruments related to disability.

Given the country flexibility provided in the Long-term Strategy, countries, which have not already done so, are urged to consider implementing the following measures: (a) setting specific short- and medium-term objectives for disability policy, (b) establishing indicators to measure whether and when those targets are achieved, and (c) providing support for the comprehensive measurement of those indicators. Where resources are scarce, it is vitally important that countries prioritize their disability targets.

The World Programme of Action emphasized education and employment for assessing the current situation of persons with disabilities in relation to equalization of opportunities. Currently, UNESCO has established goals and implementation procedures for education through the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action, and the ILO has established goals related to employment through Convention Number 159. While all elements of the World Programme and the Standard Rules are important, where resources are scarce, it is recommended that countries consider placing a priority on implementing goals related to education and employment. Not only are these goals emphasized in the World Programme but the United Nations systems has identified goals and objectives appropriate to support country efforts, on request. Moreover, the achievement of education and employment goals for disabled persons can provide them and societies with the resources to achieve other development goals.

In setting policies and programmes for education, employment and other goals, it is recommended that countries consider placing a priority on actively empowering individuals with disabilities, families of disabled children and advocacy organizations in setting long-term goals and medium- and short-term objectives. Such participation will encourage formulation of policies that provide a customer approach to services in which people with disabilities and their families have a key decision making role concerning services provided to them. Empowerment should occur at all stages of planning and implementation - not simply in selected stages.

United Nations agencies are urged to establish proactive mechanisms to assist countries on request in setting and prioritizing goals and objectives, as well as in actively empowering consumers. To serve as an example in priority setting, the United Nations is urged to conider establishing education and employment as priority areas in the implementation of disability policies at the international level. In regards to specific priorities, it is recommended that agencies coordinate with UNESCO to achieve education goals and ILO to achieve employment goals. It is also recommended that concerned bodies and agencies coordinate with the Division for Social Policy and Development of the United Nations Secretariat in disability policy-related efforts. This will not only contribute to more efficient results at the international level but provide a model for countries to set policies that are not driven by the needs of specific agencies but in response to the needs of persons with disabilities.

b) Regarding implementation strategies from the disability perspective

Because of its emphasis on setting specific goals within a time frame while affording country flexibility, it is recommended that countries consider using as appropriate the Long-term Strategy as the framework for the formulation and implementation of disability policy. Countries, which have not already done so, are urged to renew their efforts to establish a medium-term plan and to formulate a menu of targets for the years 2000-2002.

Countries may wish to set targets for the following activities:

  1. formulate plan to implement Convention 159 of the ILO concerning employment of disabled persons;
  2. establish strategies to apply the Convention on the Rights of the Child (General Assembly resolution 44/25, annex) as it pertains to persons with disabilities (articles 23, 27 and 39); and
  3. adopt (or endorse) the Standard Rules with selected Rules identified for implementation prior to 2002, such as pertaining to legislation (Rule 15), coordination of work (Rule 17), organizations of persons with disabilities (Rule 18), accessibility (Rule 5), education (Rule 6) and employment (Rule 7).

Goals related to rehabilitation and prevention need to be established, as well. First, countries are urged to set targets for having CBR established in a nationally chosen number of rural areas. Such rehabilitation should be consumer-driven, empowering people with disabilities and their families as decision makers concerning the types of services that they receive. Second, countries are urged to set specific targets to reduce, for instance by 2002, the causes of impairments by a nationally chosen percentage. Such targets should include the prevention of secondary impairments and disabilities for those who already have a disability.

Countries are urged to establish mechanisms to ensure that disability issues are considered in all major national policy initiatives, particularly those related to human rights. As countries develop institutions or reinvent existing structures in policy implementation, consideration should be given to universal design principles to include all members of society. Economic development plans, in particular, should consider both their impact on disabled persons and the impact of persons with disabilities on the implementation of plans.

To serve as a role model for countries, the United Nations is urged to establish a clear mechanism to ensure that disability issues are considered in all major international policy initiatives, including those related to development and human rights. All development plans should include a policy relevant statement of their potential impact on disabled persons and their families. Other recommended activities include providing support for organizations of disabled persons to attend expert group and other major international meetings.

To provide an example for countries, it is recommended that United Nations set specific targets for accessibility of United Nations facilities and services, which are appropriate for systematic monitoring. Goals should be set for the United Nations and the specialized agencies to achieve targets by specific dates in (a) employment of specific numbers of persons with disabilities, (b) accessibility to the physical and communications environment and (c) percentage of products and services that are accessible.

c) Towards the fourth review and appraisal of the World Programme of Action

General Assembly resolution 52/82, decided in operative paragraph seven that the next quinquennial review and appraisal of the World Programme of Action, in 2002, consider the following priority issues related to equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities: (a) accessibility, (b) social services and safety nets, and (c) employment and sustainable livelihoods.

Future disability-related monitoring initiatives should systematically build upon the cumulative experiences gained from both countries and the United Nations system in implementing the World Programme of Action.

The current review and appraisal suggests strongly a need for national capacity-building for disability-sensitive monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes. The review suggests growing concern with the disability perspective on development and the emergence of new constituencies for action on disability. This introduces an urgent need for information, outreach and strengthening of capacities, with special references to the equalization of opportunities for all. Governments, non-governmental entities and the private sector have a wide variety of concerns. For Governments, major topics of concern include strengthening of capacities for inclusive-situation analyses and for determining priorities which would best yield improvements for all. For the non-governmental community, a major topic of concern would be negotiation strategies for advancing the wide variety of agendas of persons with disabilities and their families. For the private sector, information and outreach should focus on concerns related to issues of social value, as well as cost recovery of initiatives planned and undertaken to promote the equalization of opportunities for all. In the United Nations system, there is an urgent need to build proactive capacities for the disability perspective in the social and economic sectors, including activities for development cooperation to respond to the concerns of Governments, non-governmental entities and the private sector.

This perspective poses challenges, however. Rather than focusing on the particular needs of persons with disabilities as a special social group, the disability perspective on development reflects concern with the broad set of social, economic and environmental factors that contribute to the attainment of a "society for all by 2010".[171] The broader human rights framework introduces concerns with empowerment and with accessibility, both of which are essential to the equalization of opportunities. In addition to specialized training and orientation of concerned staff so that they are better able to assist and advice Governments in this area, there is an urgent need for practical guidelines on inclusive approaches to planning, programming and evaluation.

The next review and appraisal can build upon the various perspectives introduced or reviewed in this report. From the historical perspective, the next review and appraisal can evaluate outcomes based on the recommendations from this report. It can evaluate progress towards the mainstreaming of disability issues, resolving definitional issues and recommend practical approaches to evaluation and indicators, employing data from countries. This approach will strengthen the evaluation of progress towards a systemic approach to disability issues over time and become an important component of achievement of the goals of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons in the context of development and human rights for all.


[171] General Assembly resolution 48/99 of 20 December 1993.

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