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Want to find out if your service, council or venue is meeting the needs of disabled people?

When carrying out a customer survey include these six simple questions to identify disabled people and better understand their customer experience. Remember, get it right for disabled people, and you'll get it right for everyone!

These six questions have been developed by international experts and have been robustly tested, so all the hard work is done. They are the questions used by Government in national surveys to identify disabled people, including in the Census for the first time in 2018. You're better to use these questions rather than simply asking respondents "Are you disabled?" because the latter relies on self-identification, which isn't always accurate.

The questions are known as the "Washington Group Short Set of Questions", and they focus on six core functional activities: seeing, hearing, walking, cognition, self-care and communication.

Different thresholds can be applied to the answers to define disability status. The international experts recommend an individual needs to answer “a lot of difficulty” to at least one of the questions to be defined as disabled for the purposes of the survey.

The six questions are:

1. Do you have difficulty seeing, even if wearing glasses?

2. Do you have difficulty hearing, even if using a hearing aid?

3. Do you have difficulty walking or climbing steps?

4. Do you have difficulty remembering or concentrating?

5. Do you have difficulty (with self-care such as) washing all over or dressing?

6. Using your usual (customary) language, do you have difficulty communicating, for example understanding or being understood?

And, the multiple choice answers are:

a. No - no difficulty

b. Yes – some difficulty

c. Yes – a lot of difficulty

d. Cannot do at all.


Comparing the data on how disabled people answered your survey questions versus non-disabled people will help you identify where you need to make improvements to be more inclusive - which is good news for disabled people, and good news for your business!

More information about the Washington short set of questions.

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