Poll indicates potential of London 2012 to have positive impact on disabled people’s lives
3 December 2011
Ahead of International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December) and as a second batch of Paralympic tickets goes on sale on 2 December, London 2012 has been hailed as an ‘opportunity’ for disabled people by 71% of the wider British public.
The findings come from a Scope-commissioned ComRes poll, and suggest that the Paralympics has a crucial role to play at a time when attitudes towards disabled people are getting worse.
Between April and September this year the number of disabled people claiming they experienced aggression, hostility or name calling saw a dramatic hike from 41% to 66%.
According to Scope the survey highlights the potential the Olympics and Paralympics has for creating a wider legacy.
But disabled people remain sceptical about the games. Only 32% of disabled people plan to watch all or most of the events; while one-fifth say that the Paralympic Games make them feel second class (20%). And while the wider public is enthusiastic about the potential impact of the Paralympics only 18% are excited enough that they intend to watch most or all of the games.
How do we bridge the gap? One suggestion, that has broad support amongst disabled people (65%) and parents of disabled children (62%), is to combine the Olympics and Paralympics. This comes in the wake of Oscar Pistorius’ intention to compete in both games and accusations that this would ‘blur the edges’ between the two and even relegate a 400m Paralympic event to a ‘B final’.
While Oscar Pistorius is perhaps the most recognisable Paralypian he’s not the only whose ambitions have straddled both games. In Beijing table tennis player Natalia Partyka and swimmer Natalie Du Toit competed in both games, albeit in different events. A majority of British adults say that combining the Olympics and Paralympics would help disabled athletes to be taken more seriously (54%) and it would improve society’s views about disabled people (52%).
But, for many disabled athletes and disability sport orgnisations that bridge has already been crossed, and combining both games has long been regarded as impractical.
For Scope the answer lies in making sure all disabled people can feel part of the whole event.
It is therefore worrying to read about increasing concerns being raised around how easily disabled people can use capital’s transport network and hotel rooms during the games.
Alice Maynard, Chair of disability charity Scope, said: “It’s just not clear how London will cope with having so many people and so many disabled people in the same place at the same time.”
For Scope, giving all disabled people the chance to feel part of the Olympics is key to ensuring that it has a lasting impact in terms of changing attitudes. The games need to be about more than just the athletes – they need to engage all disabled people.
Alice said: “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 if the only disabled people who get any profile out of the games are Paralympians – and their feats of sporting success, then it is unlikely that the games will do much to change people’s perceptions of ordinary disabled people.
“The challenge for London 2012 is to make sure disabled people are involved not just on track and field but throughout the games and the celebrations before and afterwards.”
For more information contact Warren Kirwan in the Scope press office on 020 7619 7200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or out of hours call 07843 467 948
Topline poll results:
When asked about how the London 2012 Paralympic Games makes them feel, parents of disabled children are more positive about the games than disabled people themselves.
Parents of disabled children are more likely than disabled adults to say that it presents an opportunity for disabled people (74% compared to 61%), 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%):
|Disabled people||Parents of disabled people||British adults|
|Opportunity for disabled people||61%||74%||71%|
|Excited / I’m excited about the Paralympics||23%||35%||11%|
|Empowered / It empowers disabled people||23%||33%||50%|
|Patronised / It patronises disabled people||22%||5%||4%|
|Included / It is inclusive for disabled people||20%||34%||32%|
|Second class / It makes disabled people||20%||5%||4%|
|Waste of money / It’s a waste of money||9%||2%||5%|
While slightly less than one-quarter of disabled adults say they feel empowered and excited (23% each), a similar proportion say that they feel patronised when thinking of the Paralympic Games(22%).
Furthermore, one-fifth of disabled people say that the Paralympic Games make them feel second class (20%).
Disabled people (65%) and parents of disabled children (62%) are more likely than British adults (45%) to say that combining the Olympic and Paralympic Games would be a good idea. Nonetheless, a majority of British adults say that combining the Olympics and Paralympics would help disabled athletes to be taken more seriously (54%) and it would improve society’s views about disabled people (52%).
Disabled people are more likely than GB adults to say they do not intend to watch any of the Olympics (28% compared to 19%). However, while one-third of GB adults (33%) say that they do not intend to watch the Paralympic Games, only 27% of disabled people say they same.
Disabled people are more interested in the Paralympic Games than British adults overall with 32% of disabled people planning on watching all or most of the events compared to only 18% of Britons.
Parents of disabled children are the most likely to say that they will watch all or a lot of the Paralympic events (45%).
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%)
Notes to the Editor:
Scope and ComRes:
- 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).