Best Practices for Collecting Data on Disabilities
The tips below can help you apply the WG Short Set to your work in collecting data in disabilities.
Focus on domains of functioning. Recognize that differences in how ‘disability’ is perceived and translated across languages can create low quality or no data. For this reason, focus on domains of functioning; apply the WG Short Set to focus on six main domains of functioning (vision, hearing, mobility, memory/concentration, self-care, and communication), in contrast to approaches that are based on a medical model, which focuses on bodily impairments.
Translate and adapt the WG Short Set. Refer to “WG Translation Protocol” for translation and cultural adaptation of the questionnaire, which will help produce a valid and reliable instrument in a local language. This helps mitigate linguistic differences caused by changes in the meaning of words between dialects as well as difficulties in applying a concept to a different culture. The Protocol provides step-by-step directions. Please note that the adaptation guidance for different age groups is still under development.
Test the questionnaire in the field. Once translated, the questionnaire must undergo two types of testing: cognitive and field. Cognitive testing helps ensure that the concepts in the questionnaire were adequately adapted to a culture to be understood and interpreted correctly by respondents. The field testing ensures reliability of the final protocol. The WG provides Field and Cognitive Testing guidance for practitioners.
Train interviewers in data collection. The WG provides detailed Interviewer Instructions for training interviewers and collecting data, including information about necessary consent forms. The instructions illustrate best practices of interviewing persons with disabilities .
Integrate data collection into the program cycle. USAID missions and partners can use the WG Short Set as part of assessments conducted to inform planned education project and activity designs, to identify contextual barriers as well as opportunities for future disability-inclusive programming. The Short Set should also be used as a component of the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) approach by the mission and partners to monitor how well programming is reaching and benefiting individuals with disabilities. The Short Set is not designed to function as a diagnostic tool for referrals or individual learning plans.
Use the tool appropriately. The WG Short Set is considered appropriate for adults and youth populations. When used with young children, the WG Short Set is expected to underestimate the proportion of children with developmental and cognitive disabilities, because the tool relies on a respondent’s ability to compare him or herself to their peers. Some adaptation of questions might also be needed to ensure questions are understood by children. The adaptation guidance is currently under development. If possible, it's recommended to interview caregivers about the functioning of children using dedicated data collection protocols from the Washington Group.
Share! Discussions between missions and partners can influence how organizations globally approach disability inclusion in education programming.
Including the WG Short Set as the primary method of collecting data on disability status of USAID program beneficiaries lays a foundation for informed, data-driven decision-making. It also enables comparisons of effectiveness of interventions for persons with disabilities across program types and environmental contexts, including the program’s ability to reach persons with disabilities and improve their lives.