UK 'more positive about disability' following Paralympics

Graphic illustrating how attitudes to disabilities have changed since the paralympics, according to a BBC-ComRes poll

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Three-quarters of Britons feel more positive about the role of people with disabilities in the UK following the Paralympics, a BBC survey three months on from the Games suggests.

Some 79% of 2,400 non-disabled people questioned by ComRes for the BBC also said they thought wider perceptions of disability had improved.

But the figure fell to 65% among the 600 people with disabilities surveyed.

A leading charity has welcomed the news but says there is "some way to go".

Start Quote

We clearly still have some way to go, but we shouldn't write off the Paralympics effect”

End Quote Richard Hawkes Disability charity, Scope

ComRes polled more than 3,013 UK adults over three weekends in late November and December, including 600 people with a "long-standing mental or physical disability or condition".

According to the research, 75% said they felt more positive about the role of people with disabilities.

Among women, 78% said they felt more positive now compared to 72% of men.

In a poll for the Charities Aid Foundation in September 2012 - during the Paralympics - ComRes found 76% of all respondents felt the games had made them feel more positive about the role of people with disabilities in the UK.

'Build momentum'

Meanwhile, more than three-quarters (76%) of all respondents - including those with a disability - say they think people's attitudes towards those with disabilities have improved since the games, while just 1% believe perceptions have worsened and 17% feel there has been no change.

However, the research suggests a divergence of views between those with a disability and those without one.

Respondents who have a longstanding mental or physical disability or condition are less likely than those who have not to say people's perceptions have improved - 65% compared to 79% of those without a disability.

Those with a disability are also "more likely to say they think there has been no change in perceptions, or to say they think people's perceptions continue to be negative," the survey reports.

Great Britain"s Helen Scott and Aileen McGlynn Paralympics GB took a record haul of 120 medals during the London 2012 Paralympics

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the disability charity Scope, told the BBC: "It's a tough time to be disabled. It's a battle to get the right support. You're more likely to be out of work. It can be a struggle to get out and about in the community.

"Attitudes underpin everything. Access, for instance, is as much about thinking differently as it is spending money."

Mr Hawkes added: "We clearly still have some way to go, but we shouldn't write off the Paralympics effect.

"We need to build on the momentum. It's about visibility and greater discussion. Let's ask what else we can do to increase disabled people's visibility in the media, in politics, in the arts and above all in everyday life?"


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  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    Attitudes have changed toward disabled people because of the Paralympics? How, exactly?

    Olympians/Paralympians are people who have worked hard to develop their natural talents and become the best that they can be. It doesn't make me think of the man down the road who's in a wheelchair any differently. I wouldn't expect him to be able to compete any more than I can run 100m in under 10 seconds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    A lot of disabled people get a bit fed up of the idolisation of Paralympians. Most disabled cannot do what they do no matter how hard we might try. Like Olympians, Paralympians are the exception not the rule. It certainly does not mean that all disabled on benefits could be working full time if only we'd try harder! Trying harder makes many of us worse, adding stress to our other difficulties.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    The coverage of Paralympics and the sports is great for local groups too. It's encouraged a new generation. Guildford just played host to a massive local event centred around Paralympians and it really made a mark on the local community.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    The London 2012 Paralympics have transformed the way people view people with disabilities, more so than previous Olympic events. This is because the scale of the event was larger than we've ever seen before.

    We see ability now rather than disability.

    Well done London 2012. You got this one right!

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    I have disabilities including autism and mental health difficulties. I've been victim to hate crime for most of the last 3 years plus. It will take more than a nice Paralympics to improve some folks' attitudes.

    I rarely tell people I have these disabilities as a landlord evicted me on the basis of my autism less than 2 years ago.


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