With the deep concern to address the need of people suffering from disability of one form or another, the United Nations (UN) World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons was formulated. It specifically requested the United Nations to develop systems for the regular collection and dissemination of information on disability. Hence, the demand for disability statistics for most countries significantly increased in recent years.
During the United Nations International Seminar on Measurement of Disability that took place in New York in June 2001, an outcome of that meeting was the recognition that statistical and methodological work was needed at an international level in order to facilitate the comparison of data on disability cross-nationally. As a result, the Washington Group on Disability Statistics was created, under the aegis of the United Nations Statistical Commission, in February 2002. The Group is cognizant of the need to promote and coordinate international cooperation in the area of disability statistics. It also aims to create and promote measures for its generation in censuses and national surveys.
Since its creation, the work of the Group focused on the following objectives, which have been presented in meetings worldwide:
The first meeting of the Group was held in Washington, D.C. on 18-20 February 2002. Following meetings were held in: 1) 2nd meeting – Ottawa, Canada (2003); 2) 3rd meeting – Brussels, Belgium (2004); 3) 4th meeting – Bangkok, Thailand (2004); 4) 5th meeting – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2005); 5) 6th meeting – Kampala, Uganda (2006); and 6) 7th meeting – Dublin, Ireland (2007).
Continuing the Group’s objectives, the Philippines is hosting the 8th Annual Meeting of the Washington Group on Disability Statistics on 29-31 October 2008 in Manila, coinciding with the celebration of the Philippines 19th National Statistics Month. This is being done in coordination with the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).