24.1 The Commission was hampered in its consideration of many issues by the lack of data. In addition to the surveys and data bases referred to in Appendix A, it had the results of other small scale surveys and case studies and a wealth of qualitative, impressionistic and anecdotal data to draw on, where appropriate, in preparing this report.

24.2 According to the Economic and Social Research Institute, there is widespread agreement on the inadequacy of information on the numbers, characteristics and needs of people with disabilities in Ireland. The ESRI, in its report for the Commission (see Appendix A), added that

Comparative statistical information published by Eurostat also indicate that there are a number of important gaps in the Irish data (notably regarding the circumstances of second and third-level students with disabilities, people with disabilities in the workplace, the level and nature of impairment) which limit the effectiveness of public policy in this area. Statistical information is needed in order to plan and evaluate

  • The provision of special services for people with a disability and, where appropriate, their carers; and
  • Strategies to increase the opportunities of people with disabilities to participate in generally available services and opportunities (including health, education, employment and leisure activities).

24.3 Funding for research into disability issues is small, there appears to be little if any co-ordination or prioritisation, and the dissemination of information on current and completed projects is patchy.

24.4 The Commission considered the advantages and disadvantages of establishing a specially designed Disability Research Body but concluded that it might lead to a further segregation of disability issues which would run counter to the general principle of social, economic and scientific integration. Instead, the Commission recommends that the proposed National Disability Authority be empowered to conduct and commission research on disability issues and that adequate funding be allocated to extend both the scope and volume of current research.

24.5 The Commission further recommends that a Research Co-ordination Group be established under the auspices of the National Disability Authority to provide a forum in which interested bodies could exchange information, agree priorities, avoid overlaps and help to construct joint projects, streamline the dissemination of results and identify and pursue funding options at home and abroad.