Skip to 0 minutes and 2 secondsMAN: FutureLearn. [THEME MUSIC] UNSW Australia. Introduction to Week 2.

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsLOUISA SMITH: Hi, I'm Louisa.

Skip to 0 minutes and 14 secondsLEANNE DOWSE: And I'm Leanne.

Skip to 0 minutes and 15 secondsLOUISA SMITH: And we're going to talk about counting disability. Often when Leanne and I start teaching a course or a class, some of the first questions that students ask are around who counts as having a disability. Does somebody with depression count as having a disability? Does somebody who's obese count as having a disability?

Skip to 0 minutes and 36 secondsLEANNE DOWSE: And the other question we always get asked is, how many people with disabilities are there? And, of course, it's very difficult to answer those questions in any objective way. And that's one of the things that we're really going to be trying to talk through with you in the coming material.

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 secondsLOUISA SMITH: Yes, in the coming material we'll be looking at some official statistics around disability. Some people suggest that there's up to 20% of the global population. But we'll also be questioning how those statistics are developed.

Skip to 1 minute and 8 secondsLEANNE DOWSE: So the key questions are, who gets counted? Who's counted in? Who's counted out? And also, who makes decisions about who's in or out of the counting?

Skip to 1 minute and 18 secondsLOUISA SMITH: We'll be listening to stories from people with disabilities about when they count themselves in and when they count themselves out, and the difference between being labeled and badging yourself as having a disability.

Skip to 1 minute and 30 secondsLEANNE DOWSE: And also we'll be looking at some of the key international global scale and national statistics, and we'll be asking you to go and have a look yourself at some of the places where counting happens in the world in which you live in. And we'll be asking you to really think about what that counting means. How it happens, what are the issues around it, and what does it mean to have numbers? What does it mean for individuals, but also what does it mean for governments?

Skip to 1 minute and 55 secondsLOUISA SMITH: I think that's a good place to end. Thanks.

Welcome to Week 2

This week focuses on how people with disabilities are counted, classified, labeled and identified. But this module is also about the stories behind this counting of impairment and disability. Who gets to decide who’s disabled? When is measuring disability important? When do people with disabilities challenge it, or argue for different ways of doing it?

In the video above, Leanne and Louisa introduce the week and explain the importance of looking at how disability is counted.

After you’ve watched the video, take some time to investigate how this issue of counting people with disabilities has been taken up on a global scale. There are a number of websites listed below which provide a broad context for how disability statistics are collected globally. When you are browsing these sites, you will probably reflect back on some of the definitions of impairment and disability we began to discuss last week.

Websites to explore

(You might want to open these in a new tab.)

  • The World Report on Disability, published in 2011 to support the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, is a large and comprehensive document that situates disability globally. While the whole report is a good read, Chapter 2 is particularly useful for this week. You might want to open these links in a new tab.

  • For some baseline figures visit the Factsheet from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, and the Overview of disability from The World Bank.

  • For an initial context about the World Health Organisation (WHO) visit Information on disabilities from WHO. And for more on the attempts by WHO to gather reliable disability statistics worldwide visit Information on disability data from WHO.

Talking points

  • Who is counting disability, and why?

  • What do the above linked websites say about the number of people with disabilities worldwide? And across different categories of impairment?

  • What do the sources say about disability and gender? Disability and age? Disability and poverty? We’ll be exploring these themes in later weeks.

  • What are the difficulties in collecting accurate data about impairment and disability worldwide?

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This video is from the free online course:

Disability and a Good Life: Thinking through Disability

UNSW Sydney

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