The Disability Perception Gap

Attitudes towards disability

“Negative attitudes from others mean I don’t leave the house very often" - Bev, St Helens

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A lack of understanding and prejudice towards disabled people are still too common in our society. An occasional moment of rudeness or ignorance may be a minor annoyance. But the more it happens, the more impact it has.

Negative attitudes presents one of the most significant barriers to disabled people living the lives they choose. But it doesn’t need to be this way.

Our report The Disability Perception Gap looks at the attitudes and prejudices that disabled people face, and shines a light on the British public’s current attitudes towards disabled people. The findings are based on research conducted by the National Centre for Social Research as part of the annual British Social Attitudes Survey.

The research shows that disabled people continue to face a range of negative attitudes across all aspects of daily life, from views on how productive disabled people are, to feeling that disabled people need to be cared for most of the time.

Worryingly, the gap between disabled people and non-disabled people’s impression of negative attitudes has trebled over the last 20 years. One in three disabled people feel there is still a lot of disability prejudice in Britain today, but this view is only shared by one in five non-disabled people. More than ever, it seems there is a difference between the public’s perceptions of disability and disabled people’s experiences.

You can read the full report for more details.
I’ve experienced loneliness as an adult, being excluded from social situations or activities due to my condition, or people making assumptions about what I am able to do, or not
Shani, Walsall

Closing the perception gap: what can we do? 

This isn’t an issue which is going to get resolved over night. However, the research has shown that knowing a disabled person makes a huge difference to non-disabled people’s attitudes. We think there are three key places we need to begin to change attitudes towards disabled people. 

The Government needs to take the lead in tackling negative attitudes 

We want to see the Government launch a new cross-departmental disability strategy, focussed on improving attitudes and reducing prejudice towards disabled people. 

We need to see more disabled people in work 

We want to see government and other organisations be ruthless and relentless in their action to increase the number of disabled people in employment, including meeting the aim of getting one million more disabled people into work. 

Disabled people need to be better represented in our media and creative industries

We want to see the government identify and ring-fence funding, within existing Government or Lottery-funded schemes, to improve diversity within the creative industries, focussing on on-screen representation.

We would also like to see broadcasters establishing specific schemes aimed at locating and supporting disabled talent throughout the television and radio industries.

Read our blog - links to Disability Perception Gap Policy blog
Find out more about The Disability Perception Gap.
The disability perception gap report is only part of our work campaigning for everyday equality for disabled people, and we’d love to hear about your experiences and what you would like to see changed.

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