Government collects data on disability

The Department of Social Development says it has started a project to collect more data on disability in the country.

The project includes tracking statistical disability trends, including development indicators and investigating whether people with disabilities are considered and integrated in government programmes and policies. It will also include the development of a Disability Inequality Index - a comparison between people with disabilities and those without.

"The Department of Social Development is also collaborating with Statistics South Africa to develop a database on people with disabilities. A key outcome of the database will be the establishment of standards in data collection on people with disabilities to increase comparability and facilitate analysis," the department said.

The White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was one of the issues discussed during the three-day Disability Rights Summit held in Centurion. The white paper aims to strengthen disability equity evidence collection to ensure people with disabilities have equitable access to opportunities, lifelong learning, training and capacity building and all other services.

The white paper was officially launched by President Zuma at the opening of the summit on 10 March 2016. The summit noted that a lack of disability statistics continues to hinder efforts made at all levels of planning in allocating resources aimed at improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Strengthening ECD services for children

The summit also looked into strengthening access to Early Childhood Development (ECD) services for children with disabilities. Government's ECD policy recognises ECD as an essential building block for lifelong development.

Evidence shows that children with disabilities attending inclusive ECD centres in their neighbourhoods benefit from the stimulation of learning and playing with their peers.

"Their desire to participate in group activities motivates them to work harder on developmental goals. This approach recognises that children with disabilities and their families have ordinary needs and must have access to mainstream programmes and services.

"The implementation plan of the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which the summit has been called to develop, is therefore expected to set out how inclusive ECD for children with disabilities will be achieved," the summit said.

The department is already working on determining the percentage of registered ECD facilities and programmes that can accommodate children with disabilities.

Ultimately, government wants to be able to determine people with disabilities' enrolment and completion rates in ECD; general education and training; further education and training; higher education and training, and technical vocational education and training; the rate of employment in both the public and private sectors, as well as the political representation of people with disabilities.

Government aims for a 5% improvement in these indicators by 2019.