The Rapid Assessment of Disability (RAD)

Project Details

What is the RAD?

The Rapid Assessment of Disability, or RAD, is a survey tool for collecting disability data. The RAD addresses two important issues. The first is providing a clearer picture of the number of people with disability, or prevalence, in a population or community. The second is to better understand the diversity of disability and the barriers that individuals with disability face. The RAD can be used as a stand-alone tool to provide a rapid and comprehensive overview of disability. Alternatively, the RAD can be adapted for particular purposes and uses. The RAD has a modular design to make such adaptation easier. The complete RAD toolkit includes household and individual survey tools and explanatory guidelines.

The RAD was developed by the Nossal Institute for Global Health and the Centre for Eye Research Australia, at the University of Melbourne with funding from the Australian Government through the Australian Development Research Awards. Other partners who helped develop the RAD include the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh and the Pacific Eye Institute, Fiji.

Why is the RAD important?

How we count and measure disability varies from place to place and between different organisations and agencies. The lack of standardised disability data makes the sharing of information and coordination across programmes and between agencies difficult. Standardised approaches to measuring and understanding disability are important for effective planning, prioritisation, and the efficient allocation of resources. This applies to both national policy and local implementation.

The RAD provides a standardised approach to collecting data and understanding disability that can be applied across agencies and sectors. An important consideration in the design of the RAD has been how the RAD can be used in practice.  Particularly, in how to close the gap between the collection of data and the application of information to better inform policy and programming. The RAD is also compatible with, and draws on, the Washington Group Short Set of Questions that are increasingly being used in national censuses and to disaggregate disability data within the Sustainable Development Goals.

Who can use the RAD?

The RAD has been designed to be used by a range of organisations. These include national and local government; civil society, non-government and disabled people’s organisations; development agencies; and research institutes.

With training and support from the Nossal Institute, the RAD has been effectively used by field teams and data collectors in a variety of settings. To make data collection easier a digital version of the RAD has been developed. The digital version can be used on Android phones and tablets and can be completed off-line in areas with limited Internet access.

How is the RAD organised?

The complete RAD toolkit contains survey tools for use at the household and individual levels. Guidelines on the use of the two survey tools are also provided.

Figure – Schematic of the Rapid Assessment of Disability

  • Household survey tool: Captures general information about the characteristics of the household. This includes, who is living in the household and what they own to understand the household’s socioeconomic status.
  • Individual survey tool: Explores in more detail the situation for people with disability within the household. At the individual level, the RAD captures information on the extent to which individuals can perform different activities and participate in daily life.

The RAD includes different sets of questions for adults and children. The final section of the RAD is designed to be used for specific purposes, or sectors. For example, an organisation working on disaster risk reduction may use the related supplementary questions to better understand the barriers persons with disabilities may face in accessing services related to disaster preparedness and response.

How has the RAD been used?

The RAD is a tried and tested tool and has been improved through use in a range of countries and situations. These include:

  • Improving access to quality education in Fiji.
  • Improving access to sexual and reproductive services for women with disability in the Philippines.
  • Providing baseline and post-project information from community health initiatives in India.
  • Providing information for disability-inclusive disaster response and recovery following Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu.
  • Providing baseline data for developing rehabilitation services in two districts of Bangladesh.

Further information

Please contact the Nossal Institute for Global Health: RAD-enquiries@unimelb.edu.au

Research Group

Disability Inclusion for Health and Development




Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Nossal Institute for Global Health

Unit / Centre

Disability Inclusion for Health and Development