Can I use the Well-being Measure with disabled young people?

We know that there are many organisations interested in using the Well-being Measure that work with disabled young people. An important question is therefore ‘is the tool something that can be used with these young people?’ What are the limitations to its applicability?

There are two things that need to be considered when answering this:

Firstly, because the Measure is based around a survey, it requires that children can read the questions.

It is designed for young people with functional levels of literacy. All the questions are very simply phrased using familiar language, so they are accessible to all but the poorest readers. We know this because the questions have been completed without difficulty by tens of thousands of young people, with a range of abilities.

If a young person does have difficulty reading a question, you can help by reading aloud or using simple explanation, so long as you avoid influencing how they answer. More details on this are included in our guidance on administering your survey on the Help & FAQs page.

Secondly, the Measure requires that young people understand what they are being asked.

For example, one of the questions asks young people if they feel ‘nervous or tense’. To answer this, you need to know what it means to feel that way. Again, the survey uses language and ideas that are familiar to young people so this is only an issue for a small number. (Note: Although the survey measures complex concepts of well-being such as resilience and self-esteem, it doesn’t require that children understand them.)

Overall it’s very difficult to give specific guidance on what does and doesn’t work with disabled young people because of their range of needs. A deaf young person may be able to complete the survey without any trouble but a young person with severe learning difficulties may find it impossible.

Ultimately, it is up to you to make a decision and to apply your knowledge and common sense. If you are not sure how young people will react to the survey, print out the sample questions and try them out! It might sound obvious to say it, but all young people are different and no measurement tool will ever be perfect – so what you may be looking for is a ‘good enough’ fit.

For details on NPC’s consulting services, please email


About John Copps

John is part of NPC's research and consulting team and is the founder of NPC's Well-being Measure, a social business that provides an online tool to measure young people’s well-being. He has eight years experience of research and consulting, and is passionate about how data can be used to improve the performance of organisations. John is a regular contributor to NPC's blog and has also contributed to pieces for BBC Radio, the Guardian, and the Financial Times. John is a governor of a secondary school.
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