Paralympics have power to change attitudes towards disabled people
29 August 2012
- 62% of disabled people and their families believe the Paralympics can improve attitudes towards disabled people
- 67% of general public will watch the Paralympic Games (up from 48% before the Olympics)
- Disabled people say greater visibility improves attitudes: Paralympics present a unique opportunity
Ahead of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, the majority of disabled people and their families believe the games have the power to change the way disabled people are treated and viewed by society.
New polling shows 62% of disabled people and their families believe the Paralympics can improve attitudes towards disabled people.
A companion survey also reveals that 67% of the general public will watch the Paralympic Games. The figure was 48% when a similar poll was conducted before the Olympics.
Taken together the findings show the Paralympics can have a real and lasting impact.
The news follows figures in a ComRes poll commissioned by Scope, which showed that almost half of disabled people (46%) thought attitudes towards them had got worse in the last year
Disabled people and their families say greater visibility is the key to improving attitudes:
- 62% say the Games have the power to change the way the public treats disabled people
- 76% said a greater presence in day-to-day life would make a difference
- 86% referred to the positive impact of greater public discussion about the issues affecting disabled people
- 87% said more disabled people in the media would have a positive effect on attitudes
To help ensure a lasting legacy for disabled people, Scope has launched a drive to promote positive stories of ordinary disabled people during the Paralympics.
Commenting on the findings, Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the disability charity Scope, said:
“The Paralympic Games are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the way society views disability.
“At a time when disabled people feel public attitudes have got worse, it is clear that they have high expectations for the games. Disabled people say they can change attitudes for the better.
“But for the games to have an impact the general public has to engage.
“We were really pleased to discover that more than two-thirds are going to watch the Paralympics. This comes as the games look set to be the first sell-out Paralympics.
“Today’s figures confirm that the wider public has few opportunities to interact with disabled people and many disabled people are invisible in society.
“The Paralympics present a unique opportunity to bridge that gap and Scope will be working throughout the Games to tell the stories of disabled people in 2012.
“A step-change in the way society views disability must be the real and lasting legacy of London 2012 for disabled people.”
Notes to the Editor:
For more information please contact the Scope press office on 020 7619 7200.
Spokespeople are available for interviews.
Opinium Poll: Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,025 disabled and non-disabled UK adults aged 18+ from 6th to 9th July 2012. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria. www.opinium.co.uk
Opinium Research was commissioned by Scope to do a nationally representative poll gauging views of Paralympics, prejudice against disabled people and amount of interaction with disabled people.
How engaged are you with the Paralympics?
I will probably watch most events: 7% (July 2012); 13% (August 2012)
I will probably watch some events: 41% (July 2012); 54% (August 2012)
I’ve heard about it on the news but I’m not going to watch any events: 34% (July 2012); 25% (August 2012)
I haven’t heard anything about it and I’m not going to watch any events: 11% (July 2012); 5% (August 2012)
Don’t know: 7% (July 2012); 4% (August 2012)
Opportunities for interaction
The potential of the Paralympics to change attitudes, and the wider importance of visibility, is backed up by findings from the Opinium poll which show that the public doesn’t have many opportunities for the interaction with disabled people, that could help change attitudes.
Forty seven per cent don’t believe they are likely to work with a disabled person in the next year
Less than half of the public (44%) are very or somewhat likely to go to a pub or café with a disabled person
Only 20% of people are likely to play sport with a disabled person and less than half are likely to encounter a disabled person at work
- ComRes Disabled People poll: ComRes surveyed 393 disabled people, 56 parents of disabled people, and 53 carers on the Disabled People’s Panel between 17th November 2011 and 6th January 2012 online. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables can be found at www.comres.co.uk
- ComRes has been tracking the views of disabled people, their parents and carers through a series of polls for the charity. Our latest poll found that almost half of disabled people feel attitudes towards them have got worse (46%); 64% of disabled people have experienced aggression, hostility or name calling. A big concern emerging from the polling is the issue of ‘benefit scroungers’ – not just the tiny number of people who actually defraud the system, but also the way issue is portrayed in the media and the impact this has on the public with disabled people are reporting that they’ve been challenged about the benefits they claim. But disabled people say that a greater presence of disabled people in day-to-day life (73%), public discussions of issues facing disabled people (84%), more disabled people in the media (87%) and more disabled politicians (79%) would have a positive effect on attitudes. Follow link for more information on the poll: http://www.scope.org.uk/news/discrimination
Scope and the Paralympics
Scope will be using its website to paint a picture of disability in 2012 with a range of facts and figures and real life stories. Scope is publishing a new set of disability facts and figures. While the stories include a young disabled campaigner fighting for better access on airlines and a disabled photographer whose pictures provide a different perspective on subjects including Paralympians. The content will be live in the run up to the Paralympics at www.scope.org.uk