Promising Practice

Indicator set to monitor the National Disability Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021

The Irish National Disability Authority has developed a set of 58 indicators to measure progress against the National Disability Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021. The gathering of data identified within this indicator set is intended to: enhance the body of data available on disability; measure outcomes related to key disability actions and policies; and drive the collection of disability data in a timely and regular manner by mainstream departments and agencies.
Institutional and structural guidelines
Foster inter-institutional cooperation
Build up data hub
Facilitate effective use
Operational guidelines
Ensure comprehensiveness
Mainstream equality data
Ensure regular and timely data collection
Enhance validity and reliability
Improve comparability
Includes multiple / intersectional discrimination


In this page:

Why was the practice needed?

The launch of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy (NDIS) in 2017 and the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) in 2018 has put a greater onus on providing a robust evidence base to allow progress and change to be measured.

The National Disability Authority (NDA) has a statutory role to monitor policy and practice in relation to disability; this includes the promotion of Universal Design and the development and use of statistics.

The NDA was well placed to develop the indicators, and to analyse and report on the data. However, data gathering is currently not standardised across the public sector. There are also some challenges in ensuring that data regarding disability is gathered regularly and can be disaggregated by other variables, e.g. disability type, gender etc.

The NDA continues to work closely with the Central Statistics Office and other public bodies to encourage robust data collection, and to explore ways of making this data available for analysis and information.

As such, the indicator set has been adopted as a ‘living document’. This is to take into account new data sources that may emerge over time allowing new areas to be measured. It may also allow revised indicators measuring overall outcomes and progress to be explored as various actions within the Strategy are delivered.

The data gathering for the indicator set is intended both to enhance the body of reliable data available on disability and to help drive the collection of this data in a timely and regular manner by mainstream departments and agencies. This also helps in being able to compare Ireland’s progress in disability matters to that of other jurisdictions.

The availability of data is essential in highlighting issues, challenges and gaps in service/support provision. This will ensure the rights of people with disabilities are recognised and addressed in public policies and practices.

How was it implemented?

The indicator set was developed by the National Disability Authority as the independent state body providing expert advice on disability policy and practice. It selected 58 indicators corresponding to 19 objectives in eight thematic areas.

An early draft of the indicator set was reviewed by the National Disability Inclusion Strategy Steering Group which comprises government departments and agencies, as well as disability sector representatives. This group provided comments on earlier drafts, suggested additional datasets for investigation, and subsequently agreed the adoption of the indicator set.

In addition, a number of NDA staff, who have deep knowledge of different sectoral areas, either provided input directly or consulted with relevant government departments. Comments and information were received from a broad range of organisations including the Health Research Board, Central Statistics Office, Department of Health, Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Department of Education and Skills, Solas, the Health Service Executive, the Health Information and Equality Authority, the Mental Health Commission, and Mental Health Reform, all of whom collect data relevant to people with disabilities.

A decision was taken early on to use, as far as possible, data that were already being collected.

The indicators currently selected have been identified from data that are:

  • Validated and robust, e.g. Census, Labour Force Survey (LFS) etc.;
  • Gathered regularly, so that progress over time can be measured;
  • Readily available, i.e. already being gathered, minimising the requirement to carry out specific data-gathering exercises, while appreciating the fact that there may be some additional work to address any significant information gaps;
  • Show outcomes rather than outputs, recognising that in some cases measuring an output may be required until such time as sufficient progress has been made or an adequate data source becomes available.


  • The set of indicators are described in detail in a report released in September 2018. In the first section of the report, the indicators are categorised in eight themes, namely, equality and choice; joined up policies and public services; education; employment; health and wellbeing; person-centred disability services; living in the community; and transport and accessible places. These themes mirror the Actions of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy.
  • The report also presents information on the source of the indicator and the baseline figure, where relevant and available. The second section of the report provides much more detailed information on each indicator. This includes the source of the data, how the indicator is calculated, the relevance of the indicator and whether it can be disaggregated by age, gender and disability type.
  • It is intended that, where possible, data will be analysed by age, gender and by disability type, for example, physical, sensory, intellectual, mental health, autism etc. Work will also be done to improve data collection and datasets to allow disaggregation of this type.
  • The indicator set was agreed in 2018 with a view to carrying out the first wave of data gathering and analysis in 2019 to provide a mid-term review of the Strategy; a second wave will follow at the end of the NDIS in 2021. This will allow a picture of the distance travelled in the time period to emerge, noting that it will always be difficult to directly link progress in any area to the impact of the Strategy alone. In a few instances, the indicator set will facilitate comparisons with EU-wide data, e.g. through use of EU SILC data for points of comparison.
  • The intention is to provide a composite report setting out the key findings in terms of outcomes for people with disabilities. This will be underpinned by the data gathered for each indicator and complemented by qualitative analysis of progress informed by NDA assessment of activity across the public sector.
  • The report will be presented to the Minister of State with special responsibility for disability issues, who chairs the independent steering group that oversees the strategy’s implementation.
  • The report will also be made publically available, most likely through the Department of Justice and Equality, who is the the strategy’s coordinating body, and through the NDA’s own dissemination channels.
  • It is intended that government departments and other statutory agencies such as the Central Statistics Office will use it to assess the effectiveness of their actions in the National Disability Inclusion Action Plan and to improve data gathering and analysis. It is also anticipated that it will be of interest to disability service providers and disability representative groups who may use the report for information and advocacy purposes.
  • The data will also be of relevance when considering Ireland’s realisation of the aims of UN CRPD.

Key success factors

  • The decision to use readily available data where possible, as these data sources have already been tested and validated. This ensures credibility for the process as a whole. A different process may have given rise to suggestions for alternative outcome indicators for measuring improvements in people’s lives that would, however, be more difficult to measure, and which may not have been otherwise validated.
  • Developing the indicator set in the run up to Ireland’s ratification of the UN CRPD. There was therefore more momentum around the issue of disability and therefore more engagement from stakeholders.

Technical information

  • Data sources covered: Census; Administrative data; Household or individual surveys; Victimisation surveys; Attitudinal surveys; Complaints data; Discrimination testing; Diversity monitoring.
  • Areas of life covered: Employment; Education; Health; Social Protection; Housing and living conditions; Access to good and services.
  • Target audience: Minister of State with special responsibility for disability issues, Government agencies, disability service providers and disability civil society groups
  • Duration: Approximately 7-8 months prior to the launch of the report in September 2018
  • Geographical scope: National
  • Leading institution: The National Disability Authority
  • Other organisations involved/consulted: National Disability Inclusion Strategy Steering Group, Health Research Board, Central Statistics Office, Department of Health, Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Department of Education and Skills, Solas, The Health Service Executive , the Health Information and Equality Authority, The Mental Health Commission, and Mental Health Reform
  • Financial & human resources: Budget: no information provided ; Source of the budget: The National Disability Authority staff costs; Staff: 1 Full Time Equivalent (FTE)


National Disability Authority

Email: nda (at) nda (dot) ie