Update from the Washington Group on Disability Statistics (WG)
The WG Workgroup on Child Functioning
The UNICEF/WG Child Functioning Module (CFM) was completed and adopted by the WG in 2016. The CFM has two components: a module for children 2-4 years of age comprised of 16 questions covering 8 core domains of functioning, and a module for children 5-17 years of age comprised of 24 questions covering 12 core domains of functioning. Domains were selected based on their universality and commonality across cultures and countries at various stages of economic development. These include: seeing*, hearing*, walking**, communicating*, learning, remembering (5-17)*, self-care (5-17)*, fine motor (2-4), behavior, emotions (5-17)**, coping with change (5-17), focusing attention (5-17), playing (2-4) and relationships (5-17).***
Together, UNICEF and the WG are completing a document: Guidelines on the Measurement of Child Disability. These guidelines are expected to be completed and made available on the website in the course of 2019.
Most recently, UNICEF and the WG have embarked upon the production of a series of e-learning modules that will cover:
• Current status of disability data: data availability and measurement challenges
• How to measure disability: data sources and how these affect measurement
• The UNICEF/WG Module on Child Functioning: content of the instrument and its use as an advocacy tool
• The WG Short Set Module: content of the instrument and its potential use as an advocacy tool
• Translating knowledge into action: how to analyze and interpret disability statistics to identify disparities and promote action.
These web-based e-learning modules are expected to be made available during the course of 2019.
Both the CFM and the WG-SS have been included in the current round of the UNICEF-supported Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS-6). As of December 2018, the MICS-6 was at various stages of implementation in 25 countries:
• Survey design (7 countries): Algeria, Cuba, Kiribati, Pakistan (Balochistan & Sindh provinces), Suriname, Turks and Caicos Islands
• Data collection (5 countries): Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mongolia, Montenegro (plus Roma settlements)
• Data processing/analysis (10 countries): DR Congo, Costa Rica, Gambia, Ghana, Iraq, Lesotho, Pakistan (Punjab), Suriname, Togo, Tunisia
• Completed (3 countries): DR Korea, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Sierra Leone
Further surveys are in the design stage in an additional 31 countries:
• 2018-19: Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (plus Roma settlements), Zimbabwe
• 2019: Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina (plus Roma settlements), Chad, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Fiji, Guyana, Honduras, Kosovo under UNSC res. 1244 (plus Roma settlements), Lebanon, Malawi, Nepal, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia (plus Roma settlements), State of Palestine, Sudan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
• 2020: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Argentina
Beginning in 2019, the United States will include the CFM in the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
For further reading, a series of three articles (with a Commentary) was published in Disability and Health Journal, Volume 11, Issue 4, October 2018:
• Devandas C. The Development and Testing of a Module on Child Functioning for Identifying Children with Disabilities in Surveys, Commentary
• Loeb M, et al. The Development and Testing of a Module on Child Functioning for Identifying Children with Disabilities on Surveys, I: Background.
• Massey M. The Role of Cognitive Interviewing Methods in the Development of Questions to Identify Children with Disabilities, II: Question Evaluation
• Cappa C, et al. The Development and Testing of a Module on Child Functioning for Identifying Children with Disabilities in Surveys, III: Field testing
UNICEF/WG Inclusive Education Module (IEM)
It has been well documented that children with disabilities are less likely to ever go to school, less likely to learn essential skills if they do go to school, and more likely to drop out before completing a full course of education. Furthermore, disability is often a more significant factor in relation to exclusion from education than gender, geographical location, or living in poverty. Exclusion from education places children with disabilities at a disadvantage for the rest of their lives, putting them at higher risk of negative social and economic outcomes, and preventing their full participation in society.
Limitations in data availability on children with disabilities in school and out-of-school hamper the capacity of policy-makers to design strategies and to take appropriate actions to promote their full participation in school.
Since 2012, UNICEF and WG have been working on the development of a set of questions that will focus on environmental factors and participation in school for all children. The goal is to develop a survey module that can be used in conjunction with the Child Functioning Module, and across a variety of school contexts, focusing on formal education. The IEM identifies both facilitators and barriers to school participation for children with and without disability, and is intended to provide policy-relevant information.
The UNICEF/WG IEM covers three main domains related to potential environmental barriers to education: attitudes, accessibility and affordability. It also includes questions aimed at understanding the reasons why a child is not attending school. In particular, the module covers the following topics:
Attitudes: Parent’s or caregiver’s perceptions of inclusive education, i.e. whether boys and girls / children with and without disabilities should go to the same school.
Accessibility of the school environment:
• the physical environment: entryways, corridors, bathrooms, as well as transportation to and from school,
• information/curricular accessibility: classroom teaching and learning material for children who have vision and hearing difficulties
• communication accessibility
• program accessibility and adaptability: allowing teachers to make changes to accommodate children with special needs
Affordability including covering the costs associated with school attendance (tuition / tutoring, transportation and eventual living expenses); the availability of types of assistance (both financial and in the form of provision of assistive devices/technology); and non-educational benefits (meals and uniforms).
For those children who are out of school the module addresses:
• the reasons why a child may go to school (e.g. work, health condition, no school nearby, too old/young, has enough education, doesn’t want to go);
• if the child went to school before, but doesn’t go now – why? (not safe, can’t use the toilet, unable to access the school or classroom); and
• whether the availability of assistive devices, extra help or other services would facilitate school attendance.
To-date, cognitive testing has been completed in United States, India, Jamaica, Cambodia and Kazakhstan. Further cognitive and filed testing is planned for 2019, prior to approval and launch of the Inclusive Education Module.
*Comparable to WG SS questions; **Comparable to WG ES questions; *** Unless indicated with a specific age range, domains are relevant for all children 2-17 years of age
Mitchell Loeb, Washington Group on Disability Statistics, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Claudia Cappa, UNICEF, e-mail: email@example.com
- The CFM is available in English, French, Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Portuguese (both standard and Brazilian), and Khmer.
- An accompanying Manual for Interviewers is available in English, French & Spanish.
- Additionally, the WG and UNICEF have developed tabulation plans and narratives, as well as analytic syntax for the determination of disability status in both SPSS and STATA.