DISS

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DISS (Disability Information Services) is part of the Queen Elizabeth's Foundation for Disabled People (QEF), a charitable organisation based in Leatherhead, Surrey, England. The organisation has experience in producing databases of information relevant to the needs of disabled people, their families and carers, and has been successful in this field since the late 1980s.

Founded by QEF in 1989 as Disability Information Services Surrey, DISS was at first a telephone-based information resource for people living in Surrey to contact on an as-needed basis. Soon after its establishment, it became apparent that the vast amount of paper-based information needed to respond to telephone enquiries should ideally be computerised. Moreover, ever increasing Personal Computer power coupled with reducing PC costs enabled this computerisation to take place.

With these two factors in mind, DISS developed its own database of disability information for in-house use, which was subsequently named DissBASE. Using DissBASE, DISS workers could respond more quickly, and with a greater degree of accuracy, to inbound telephone enquiries. In these early days however, the majority of enquiries came from within the Surrey county border.

Over time, DissBASE comprised not only Surrey-specific information, but increasing amounts of national data, as well as more regional data from outside the county. In addition, other disability information and advice lines were being formed by local authorities, disability support groups and statutory bodies across the UK. With this in mind, and with DissBASE by this time comprising many thousands of records, DissBASE was made available to these other organisations nationwide. At around this time, and because of the more nationwide spread of the database, the "Surrey" part of the DISS name was dropped, although the second "S" is retained.

Over time, DISS ceased to be a telephone enquiry service in its own right; rather, it chose to specialise in those areas in which it had expertise, namely database systems development and data cleansing. These are still the main drivers behind DISS to this day.

DISS Today[edit]

With the Internet and World Wide Web offering unparalleled levels of access to the public and organisations alike, DISS has produced a version of its DissBASE database for use online; unsurprisingly, this new version of the database is called DissBASE Web. Not only will this newer version increase dramatically the number of users of the data, but it will also broaden its appeal in other areas, such as further education and the private sector. This latter area may well benefit from such a data resource, now that the UK Disability Discrimination Act has been enshrined in English Law.

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