Attitudes towards disabled people are getting worse
8 September 2011
ComRes is tracking the views of disabled people, their parents and carers through a series of quarterly polls for the charity.
Discrimination against disabled people
In May the poll found that half of the disabled people asked experienced discrimination on a daily or weekly basis - and more than a third felt that public attitudes towards them have got worse over the past year.
Four months later, the survey suggests things have got worse.
- 47% said people’s attitudes towards them have got worse over the past year (May 2011: 37%)
- 66% of disabled people say that they have experienced aggression, hostility or name calling (May 2011: 41%)
Almost half (46%) of the disabled people questioned said they experience discrimination on either a daily or weekly basis – a slight drop on the previous survey, but this remains alarmingly high (May 2011: 50%)
- 65% of disabled people thought others did not believe that they were disabled (May 2011: 58%)
- 73% of disabled people said they felt others presumed they did not work (May 2011: 50%)
Independent living in the community
For Alice Maynard, Chair of Scope, living independently and playing a visible role in a community are crucial to improving attitudes.
“Changing attitudes is about visibility and increased familiarity in everyday life. We all feel less connected to things we are not used to. First-hand experiences challenge negative perceptions.
“But in order to play a part in the community, disabled people rely on a complex infrastructure of support.
“The support is like a house of cards – if you pull out one element, the whole thing is in danger of falling down.
“Without it, disabled people struggle to play a visible role in the workplace, in shops, restaurants, offices and community spaces, and this has serious impact on the way society views disabled people.
“It is therefore no surprise that, at the same time as this vital support is being picked apart, attitudes towards us are deteriorating.”
Indeed the figures come at a time of uncertainty for many disabled people. According to the latest research by Demos, disabled people are set to be as much as £370 million worse off in 2011 alone.
Next week the House of Lords will resume its discussion on the welfare reform bill, which includes plans to cut the budget and case load for Disability Living Allowance by up to 20% – a vital payment that covers the extra daily costs disabled people face when it comes to living independently.
As London marks International Paralympics Day (Thursday 8 September) and the tickets for the 2012 events go on sale (Friday 9 September), the survey also asked disabled people, their families and carers about the role the Paralympics could play in improving attitudes towards disabled people.
- More than half (57%) of disabled people asked said they were going to watch some of the Paralympics.
- Some 64% of all respondents see the Paralympics as an opportunity for disabled people. If you take just parents of disabled children that number rises to 74%.
- Some 40% of disabled people feel either excited, included or see the games as empowering.
- 39% of people thought the games would have a positive impact on either attitudes towards disabled people generally, disabled people’s participation in sport, job opportunities or transport for disabled people.
According to Scope at a time when attitudes appear to be getting worse, the Paralympics can play a positive role in raising the profile of disabled people.
Alice Maynard added: “Attitudes to disabled people are getting worse, but the picture isn’t entirely bleak. Many of the disabled people and their families and carers we questioned are excited about the Paralympics and clearly feel it can have a positive impact.
“These games will help to increase visibility and familiarity in everyday life. Even so, we have to put it into perspective, attitudes will not be improved on a large scale until all disabled people have a chance to play a part and contribute to our community.”
Notes to the Editor:
For more information, please contact the Scope press office on 020 7619 7200.
Situations where disabled people said they would expect to experience some discrimination:
- Public transport: 59%
- Workplace: 57%
- Going shopping: 43%
- Going out for a meal: 35%
When asked about how the London 2012 Paralympic Games makes them feel, parents of disabled children were generally the most positive.
Parents of disabled children are the most likely to say that they will watch all or a lot of the Paralympic events (45% compared to 32% of disabled people).
Parents of disabled children are also more likely to feel excited (35% compared to 23%), and more likely to feel empowered by the London 2012 Paralympic Games (33% compared to 23%).
Anonymous quotes from the survey
“I have had people shouting abuse in the street, like ‘scrounger’. I have been attacked by a group of teenagers, who attempted to kick my stick away and knock me down. This happened in a busy shopping area and no one offered to help me afterwards..”
“MS is sometimes invisible. I have had a cab driver yell at me for some time in front of my four-year-old for parking my car (in a disabled bay) legally whilst displaying my blue badge in front of the bank.”
“I have been called scrounger, parasite, and a waste of space. My personal assistant was spat at for helping me recently in a local shop.”
“I've been called names in the street and told to "stop faking and get a f***ing job" while struggling to transfer to my wheelchair from the car.”
“I can walk although it is always with great pain and difficulty. I take a wheelchair with me most places and I am treated so much differently in a wheelchair. When I do get out of the wheelchair and walk a little way, I have been accused of faking it and being lazy. Because on the outside I look healthy and "normal" people expect me to be healthy and normal.”
“People have referred to my disability railcard as a 'cripple pass'."
- Scope is a charity that supports disabled people to enjoy the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. We work with all disabled people and have particular expertise in working with people with cerebral palsy and complex support needs.
- ComRes interviewed 386 disabled people, 111 parents and eight carers of disabled people, between 3-30 August 2011 online. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full tables can be found at www.comres.co.uk
- This is the fifth in a series of attitude polls that Scope has commissioned to build a clearer picture of the reality of disabled people’s lives in Britain today. Read the findings of the previous poll (May 2011).