Learning & Information | Rukuhia Te Puna Mātauranga

Census seeks to get better information on disabled people’s experiences

John McIntosh

Published 27 December 2017

A set of questions designed to identify individuals who are at greater risk than the general population of experiencing restricted social participation because of difficulties undertaking basic activities are included in the 2018 Census.

The census, held every five years, will take place on Tuesday next week using questions based on the Washington Group Short Set of Questions on Disability.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities said New Zealand needed to develop improved disability data.

The Washington questions were included for the first time in the New Zealand General Social Survey  2016/17.

The questions will continue to be included in the two-yearly survey.

They were also introduced for the first time in the June 2017 quarter of the Household Labour Force Survey.

The questions will provide useful and timely information alongside information gathered from more informal sources about the experiences of disabled people to inform policy development and service planning.

Statistics New Zealand has developed resources for people needing extra help in filling out the census including a step-by-step guide, easy-read and large-print versions of the census access code letter and videos in New Zealand sign language.

The census will ask questions such as:

  • body functions (e.g. walking, hearing)
  • daily activities undertaken by an individual (e.g. climbing steps), and
  • an individual’s participation in any area of society (e.g. paid employment)

In addition, it focuses on how the relationship between these three types of functioning is influenced by:

  • environmental factors (e.g. inaccessible transportation and public buildings, negative attitudes, limited social supports), and
  • personal factors (e.g. behavioural patterns)

The six questions, which focus on six core functional domains: seeing, hearing, walking, cognition, self-care and communication, 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?

Response scales
a. No – no difficulty
b. Yes – some difficulty
c. Yes – a lot of difficulty
d. Cannot do at all

Follow this link to begin the census

We’ve created the following accessibility resources which you can find at https://www.census.govt.nz/support-resources:

Please note that for people who are blind or sight-impaired, our online census forms have been built to work with screen readers and assisted technology. If people are unable to complete the census by themselves, or with the support of a family member, friend or carer, then our field teams will follow up after census day to assist people to complete.

You may also be interested in our How can I do the census? page which includes the following resources:

  • A step-by-step guide explaining how to use the access code to complete the census online
  • Posters explaining why the census is important in Māori, Tongan, Samoan, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Hindi and Korean
  • Instructions on how to order bilingual paper census forms in te reo Māori

Census day is coming up soon on Tuesday 6 March so it would be great if you could share this information through your networks. Feel free to only share the resources that are most relevant to your members, rather than the full list.

If you’d like to post about the census on social media, we can see and like your posts if you use the hashtag i.e.  #2018Census. There are also digital images and copy you can use to help you promote the census in your community.

This census we’re aiming to collect most of the information online, but paper still works. Once you receive your access code letter, you can call 0800 CENSUS (0800 236 787) to request a paper version of the census forms.

John McIntosh was the community liaison for Life Unlimited (now known as Your Way | Kia Roha).

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