"To make people count, we have to count people right". This notion is of particular relevance for the area of disability statistics, which until today is challenged by a substantial lack of accurate and comparable data. Few countries in the Asia-Pacific region collect information on disability regularly through censuses or surveys. In countries where information is collected, it is often done without consideration of international standards or focuses on only disability in terms of predefined categories of impairments (e.g. people who are blind, deaf, paraplegic or intellectually disabled). As a result, many countries in the Asia Pacific region have very limited and often non-comparable information about the extent of disability and the lived experience of person with disabilities and their needs.
The demand for more standardized disability statistics in the Asia-Pacific region has increased significantly over the years. The Biwako Millennium Framework for Action towards an Inclusive, Barrier-Free and Rights-Based Society for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific (BMF) and its supplement, the Biwako Plus Five urges governments to develop national disability data systems using international standards and methodologies and revisit their current definitions of disability. The recently adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol (CRPD) set the tone, at the global scale, of the broader approach to disability, which emphasizes the affect of environmental and attitudinal barriers on disability. CRPD calls for appropriate data collection on disability which would give effect to its implementation.
In response to these needs, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) have taken initiatives and implemented a joint project on improving disability statistics and measurement in the region by promoting a common definition and methodology based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). It is against this background that this publication was prepared.
This training manual intends to enhance the understanding of the ICF-based approach to disability measurement. It provides an overview of the ICF framework as well as guidelines on how to operationalize the underlying concepts of functioning and disability into data collection, dissemination and analysis.
This publication will benefit not only statisticians but also a wider range of national and international users of data on disability. This broader influence will result from the wide applicability of the standards, methodologies and best practices covered by the manual. It is hoped, that the manual will assist in stimulating more disability data collection in accordance with international standards and data dissemination for both national and international disability policy analysis, formulation and evaluation worldwide.