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 265.

    UK 'more positive about disability' following Paralympics

    Shame it has taken this long!! The Games are held every 4 years so why this Paralympics? Did the others pass them by?

  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    This is NOT the case with the GOVERNMENT.They closed most of the government funded factories which employed disabled people: Now out on the scrap heap & will probably end up living on the Streets as their Benifits are slashed or taken away. I would have thought LID-DEMS would stand up against this, but their excuse is always we are in a Coalition & have to make sacrifices

  • rate this

    Comment number 263.

    I knew a woman who has recently died who was an amputee and she received less financial and other help than dishonest disability fraudsters who lived around the corner and cliamed to have severe disability because they had 'slight' ADHD

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    attitudes towrds disabled has EVERYTHING to do with benefiits because there are so many fraudsters out there - i have seen with my own two eyes the mockery fraudsters make of disabled people - it is unethical and a real shame that alot of men and women say they are severly impaired.

  • rate this

    Comment number 261.

    Well my family gave the paralympics a miss as we had spent so much time watching the real thing and had other things to do - like work! So all this passes us by... I do know people who have told me that Paralympians like Olympic athletes are few and far between and they have been dismayed by folk thinking all disabled people ought to be able to do sports!

  • rate this

    Comment number 260.

    what i object too is that those competing get funding from lottery,grants ect while disabled people in general are treated as benefit frauds through no fault of there own
    put all funds into clubs give medals to the clubs and name those that succeed on wall plaques that way all will benefit plus having able bodies and health problems working together will then be constructive to all

  • rate this

    Comment number 259.

    Maybe the ConDems should be surveyed for their attitude to disabled people then asked why they are cutting benefits to them and making their lives a misery.

  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

    Attitudes to disability have NOTHING to do with benefits. It has to do with common courtesy. It costs nothing to hold the door open for a person with a stick for example. The Paralympians are the Creme de la Creme of disabled people and we see them at the peak, we don't see them day to day struggling to cope. And not all disabled are in a wheelchair or use a stick either.

  • Comment number 257.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.


  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    I don't have a handicap...does this mean I now have to go to the back of the line. What this 'article' does is segregate you and me. I support and always have the rights of 'everyone' which means I do not see 'handicapped' as 'handicapped' like the bbc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    So attitude has improved has it?......Within the last couple of weeks I seem to remember reading a news story about a wheelchair bound disabled person being left stranded on the second floor of an ATOS medical assessment centre when the fire alarm went off & everyone else was evacuated from the building! Someone really dropped the ball there I think & it's a good job it was a false alarm eh?

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.


    How could you say that the Paralympic games were boring ?
    The five aside blind football was AMAZING.
    Unfortunately the effects of the games are not likely to last.The public in general tend to have short memories,IMO.

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    ATOS is a government contracted company, and being that it is a private company, not a public body, does not fall under the “freedom of information act” meaning documentation between it’ and the government are not accessible!

    Remploy: I wonder how many factories would have close had it been based in the south east where the media and internationally London based media are?

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    I hope most of us have a deeper understanding and a more positive outlook on disability than ATOS.


  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    I've just seen an advert showing somebody in a wheelchair and the slogan "I can do it, what's your excuse?" It's worth pausing and considering what this ad is saying, besides the part about what a great athlete this is. It seems to me incredibly nasty to try to use the paralympics to put every person, disabled or not, down, and to effectively try to trash their self-worth because they don't win.

  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    I think we all are handicapped one way or another. To sit in judgement is wrong....(I've had 12 comments removed)

    Be that as it may...I think supporting children is very important...its Christmas so maybe we can remember them as we go about our silly lives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    I went out to do a bit of trolling but this topic is above that. It's great that disabled people have been inspired by the games and i back them up 100%. The problem is, is that our government seems to be trying it's hardest to supress this with all their cuts and the like. Maybe if you stop sending money abroad for a bit and help our own, then we wouldn't need an article like this....

  • 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 246.


    I have Asperger’s and a fully qualified nurse, and YES I am aware that it is not a mental health condition, but there is no at least in non-public bodies "0" separation between psychological disability and mental health when it comes to employment forms, and if you do not inform them, and something goes wrong, you could end up being made a fall guy, this has to change right?


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