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Scope Tracker Survey of Disabled People

A survey of disabled people conducted on behalf of Scope.

Date Published: 07 Sep 2011

Categories: Politics | Public and communities | Social | UK


Attitudes towards disabled people are getting worse – latest poll from Scope
But survey shows support for Paralympics

Disabled people feel attitudes towards them are getting worse, according to the latest snapshot survey commissioned by Scope.

But many feel the Paralympics could make a positive difference.

ComRes is tracking the views of disabled people, their parents and carers through a series of quarterly polls for the charity.

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 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%)

(See notes for figures on where disabled people expect to experience discrimination and some quotes from respondents.)

For Alice Maynard, Chair of Scope, living independently and playing a visible role in a community are crucial to improving attitudes.

She 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 that challenge negative perceptions.

“But in order to play a part in their community, disabled people rely on a complex infrastructure of support.

“It is therefore no surprise that attitudes are deteriorating at the same time as this support is being picked apart.

“The support is like a house of cards – if you pull out one, the whole thing is in danger of falling down.

“Without it, disabled people struggle to play a visible role in the workplace, in shops, restaurants, offices and community spaces, and this has serious impact on the way society views disabled people.

“At the same time I would urge the Government to think again about how it presents welfare reform. A focus on the minority of people falsely claiming benefits is, judging by the survey, having a direct impact on people’s attitudes to disabled people. The Government’s energy would be better spent making sure the disabled people have access to the right kind of support.”

Indeed the figures come at a time of uncertainty for many disabled people. According to the latest research by Demos, are set to be as much as £370 million worse off in 2011 alone.

This week the House of Lords will resume its discussion on the welfare reform bill, which includes plans for a 20% cut from Disability Living Allowance – a vital payment that covers the extra daily costs disabled people face when it comes to living independently (

As London marks International Paralympics (Thursday 8 September) and the tickets for the 2012 events go on sale (Friday 9 September); the survey also asked disabled people, their families and carers about the role the Paralympics could play in improving attitudes towards disabled people.
More than half (57%) of disabled people asked said they were going to watch some of the Paralympics.

Some 64% of all respondents see the Paralympics as an opportunity for disabled people. If you take just parents of disabled children that number rises 74%.

Some 40% of disabled people feel either excited, included or see the games as empowering.

While 39% of people thought the games would have a positive impact on either attitudes towards disabled people generally, disabled people’s participation in sport, job opportunities or transport for disabled people.

Alice adds that at a time when attitudes appear to be getting worse, the Paralympics can play a positive role in raising the profile of disabled people.

Alice Maynard added: “Attitudes to disabled people are getting worse, but the picture isn’t entirely bleak. There are bright spots throughout the research. Disabled people and their families and carers are excited about the Paralympics and clearly feel it can have a positive impact.

“But we have to put it into perspective, attitudes will not be improved on a large scale until all disabled people have a chance to play a part and contribute to their communities.”

• ComRes interviewed 386 disabled people, and 111 parents and 8 carers of disabled people, between 3rd and 30th August 2011 online. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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