In region Resources and in group Resources

All Under One Roof

1.0 Introduction
2.0 Mainstreaming disability inclusion in the shelter and settlements programme cycle
3.0 Design Recommendations and material support
4.0 Considerations based on mode of delivery and forms of tenure
Annex 1 Guiding Frameworks
Annex 2 Terms and definitions
Annex 3 Acronyms and abbreviations
Case study library

2.1 Collecting data on persons with disabilities

Having access to appropriate data in a humanitarian response is key to developing shelter and settlement strategies and plans, and to ensure that all people are included. Collection of gender, age and disability-disaggregated data will assist in building an understanding of the requirements and priorities during a crisis and to monitor inclusion.  

Persons with disabilities should not be considered to be inherently vulnerable in disaster and crisis situation, however the intersection with other systems and factors of discrimination could place them at heightened risk, so it is important to take an intersectional approach.  

As in all instances of humanitarian action, it is critical to ensure ethical data collection, storage and management.

What data might I need to inform my shelter and settlements programme?

    Quantitative data can be used to:

  • Identify persons with disabilities and number of persons with disabilities in an affected population (via registration data, household surveys, household estimates, etc.).
  • Determine the number and location of accessible and inaccessible facilities.
  • Disaggregate data on needs and risks (e.g., the number or households that are headed by persons with disabilities or other intersectional characteristics).
  • Monitor access to assistance (for example, establish the number or proportion of participants in shelter and settlements programmes who are persons with disabilities).
  • Scope availability of services and supplies.
  • Qualitative data can be used to:

  • Collate the views and priorities of persons with disabilities, for example via feedback and complaint processes (including assessing the quality of programmes and effectiveness of feedback mechanisms themselves)
  • Understand the risks and barriers that persons with disabilities face, as well as enabling factors, for example via focus group discussions and key informant interviews.
  • Identify specific risks, barriers, and enablers to accessing assistance that persons with disabilities encounter, for example through policy and document reviews.
  • Identify and monitor protection concerns (e.g., privately interviewing people about HLP rights or other violations they have experienced) including in collaboration with other sectors (e.g., Health Cluster, GBV and Child Protection AoRs, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) technical working groups).
  • Obtain detailed information about the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of humanitarian actors and local communities with regard to persons with disabilities, for example via surveys or interviews.
  • Map OPDs and accessible services, for example by gathering 5W data (Who does what, when, where and for whom?)

Community level data will in very many cases be sufficient for making informed decisions about mainstreaming disability inclusion across shelter and settlement programmes. Household level data can be useful to be able to adapt communication materials, distribution methods, and designs.

2.1.1 Adapt your data collection methods and sources of information to the stage of the emergency. Where possible, use existing sources of data to find relevant information about disability prevalence, barriers, and coping mechanisms. This could include censuses, government databases, national population data and statistics, and vulnerability and capacity assessments. Official statistics on disability are collected for different purposes and using different methodologies. It is important to consider the reliability of disability data and cross-reference, triangulate and validate with local partners where possible. See CBM case study for an example of collecting and using disability-disaggregated data for assessments and programming
2.1.2 Where possible, identify key informants and community representatives that can validate or complement any data collected from existing sources. Refine your data as the response moves forward using different inclusive assessment tools and methods.
2.1.3 Only collect data that is relevant to your programme and intervention, e.g., data on disability prevalence or the barriers which affect persons with disabilities. Details on individual disabilities is personal medical information that should only be collected or shared with informed consent of persons with disabilities and their caregivers, and only when absolutely necessary.
2.1.4 Where there is a lack of reliable disability data on persons with disabilities, estimate that:
  • 1. At least 15% of the affected population may have some type of disability and;
  • 2. there will be some people that have acquired additional impairments that may lead to disabilities from the emergency situation itself (e.g., new psychosocial and physical disabilities resulting from exposure to traumatic events).

This estimate does not indicate anything about different types of disabilities, but can be useful to support early planning and budgeting decisions.

2.1.5 Different tools may be needed to identify and understand different types of barriers, for example:
  • Key informant interviews to highlight barriers that might be hidden, including attitudes
  • Carrying out a transect walk together with persons with different types of disabilities can identify a number of environmental barriers.
  • The Washington Group short set of disability questions can help identify who or how many people are more likely to face environmental or communication barriers.
The Washington Group (WG) Short Set is a set of questions designed to identify data around functional limitations. The tool can be rapidly and easily deployed in a variety of settings.

The six Washington Group short set Questions are:

  • Do you have difficulty seeing, even if wearing glasses?
  • Do you have difficulty hearing, even if using a hearing aid?
  • Do you have difficulty walking or climbing steps?
  • Do you have difficulty remembering or concentrating?
  • Do you have difficulty with self-care such as washing all over or dressing?
  • Using your usual (customary) language, do you have difficulty communicating, for example understanding or being understood?

Response options to these questions are assigned categories that attempt to describe a continuum of functioning, for example ‘no difficulty’, ‘some difficulty’, ‘a lot of difficulty’, ‘cannot do at all’.
The use of the WG questions avoids the use of binary ‘yes/ no’ answers and questions such as “do you have a disability?”
It is important to use the WG questions as they were originally planned to ensure meaningful responses can be obtained.
While they are useful, it is also important to note that although the questions may identify many persons with disabilities, the WG-SS do not adequately address intellectual and psychosocial disabilities. Questions can be added from the extended set to help rectify this issue.

2.1.6 Link up with specialised organisations and OPDs at an early stage (preferably before the emergency), to discuss available data and methods for collection and storage. Establish routines for sharing, safeguarding and deleting data with those who have experience managing sensitive personal information. Persons with disabilities still face widespread discrimination and exclusion in many contexts. Disability data can be vital to identify needs and promote inclusion, but it is also sensitive data which can also put people at risk when not adequately safeguarded.
Appropriate protections for collecting, analysing, storing, sharing, using, destroying or archiving sensitive personal data must be in place in any humanitarian response.
More information about data protection can be found at: