Disability at a Glance 2012

The Asia-Pacific region has witnessed the successful conclusion of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 2003–2012. With the proclamation of the new Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013–2022, ESCAP members and associate members and key stakeholders now have a unique opportunity to renew their commitment towards realizing the vision of a disability-inclusive society that protects, empowers and ensures equality for the estimated 650 million persons with disabilities in the region.

The challenge is now greater than ever. Widening inequalities accompany rapid economic growth in many parts of the region. Amidst recent volatile global economic conditions, there is the risk that social objectives could be side-lined further. Sustainability of economic and social development depends on building inclusive societies that address the needs of all groups, including persons with diverse disabilities, who are currently marginalized from the region’s development process.

Exclusion carries high economic and social costs. Disability is part of the human condition, a state which does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, age, socioeconomic and cultural status. Excluding ‘disability’ from the economic and social agenda is tantamount to ignoring a reality of human living. Conversely, the level of inclusion of persons with disabilities becomes a good indicator for measuring economic and social progress.

For the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities, reliable and comparable disability data are an essential component of a rigorous evidence base to inform the design, implementation and evaluation of effective policy and programme responses.

The Disability at a Glance series, which started in 2006, serves as a companion for policymakers, statisticians and representatives of organizations of, and for, persons with disabilities in Asia and the Pacific. These publications aim to provide a regional overview of disability policies and practices, as well as relevant country data and information.

The fourth edition, Disability at a Glance 2012: Strengthening the Evidence Base in Asia and the Pacific continues this tradition. It highlights the complexity of interpreting disability data and stresses the urgent need to work towards a greater common understanding of disability, related data and data collection practices.

This edition consists of an introduction, two analytical chapters and subregional and country snapshots. The introduction provides an overview of disability prevalence in the region and raises questions about interpreting this data. Chapter 1 analyzes some possible sources of variance in disability prevalence and implications for data interpretation. Chapter 2 examines selected key factors that affect people’s health and may have a bearing on disability prevalence in the long-term.

Chapter 3, covering subregional and country snapshots, is a central part of the publication. The significant progress in data collection efforts is reflected in the large number of country snapshots included in the current edition (52 countries and areas). The data are drawn from national Government sources, based on bilateral communication between national disability focal points and ESCAP, as well as the 2011 ESCAP Disability Survey.

Moving forward, ESCAP will continue to support data collection efforts, as the region makes accelerated strides towards the ratification and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the promotion of a disability-inclusive post-2015 development agenda.

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