Activity limitations

A person is regarded as disabled if they have ‘a lot of difficulty’ or ‘cannot do at all’ one or more of the six activities in the Activity limitations questions. These six questions are the Washington Group Short Set of questions on Disability and are referred to as Activity limitations in the 2018 Census.

The questions ask whether people have difficulty performing any of six basic universal activities (walking, seeing, hearing, cognition, self-care, and communication) and were designed for use with the general population. The questions were not designed to measure all domains of functioning with which people may have difficulty, but rather those domains that are likely to identify a majority of people at risk of participation restrictions.

Disability status is derived from six activity questions:

  • difficulty seeing
  • difficulty hearing
  • difficulty walking or climbing steps
  • difficulty remembering or concentrating
  • difficulty washing all over or dressing
  • difficulty communicating.

The questions were designed to allow comparisons to be made between average outcomes for disabled and non-disabled populations. They were not designed to identify the disabled population.