New research by national charity Scope has highlighted the extent of negative attitudes that are held towards disabled people, as well as emphasising the growing gap between disabled people and non-disabled people’s perceptions of what negative attitudes still exist.

Examining the prejudices that disabled people face, the report, The Disability Perception Gap, found that one in three disabled people feel there is still a lot of disability prejudice in Britain today, whilst only one in five non-disabled think the same.

Underlining the impact being treated badly can have on a person’s role in society, the report stressed that an occasional moment of rudeness or being ignored may be a minor inconvenience or annoyance but the more it happens, the more the impact adds up.

Negative attitudes present one of the most significant barriers to disabled people living the lives they choose says Scope, with disabled people continuing to face a range of discrimination 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.

The findings, based on research conducted by the National Centre for Social Research as part of the annual British Social Attitudes Survey, also revealed the divide between the attitudes of non-disabled people and the reality of disabled people’s experiences.

According to the report, despite 32 percent of disabled people identifying that prejudice is still a major problem, only 22 percent of non-disabled people agreed with the view.

The starkly different response is the result of a worrying and growing divide in public opinion says the charity, which if not tackled, will make meaningful change and improvements for the lives of disabled people harder in the future.

“It may seem self-evident that disabled people face prejudice, but many non-disabled people do not understand the scale of the negative attitudes towards disability,” said Scope.

“Some difference wouldn’t be surprising – disabled people have to live with this prejudice every day, whereas non-disabled people may only ever know about it second hand.

“But this gap is growing. In 2000, there was only a slight difference between the views of disabled and non-disabled people when it came to disability prejudice. Over the last 20 years, however, the gap has trebled.”

In response to the findings, Scope stressed the importance of increasing interactions between disabled and non-disabled people to help bring about more understanding.

“A third of the population claim not to know a single disabled person,” said Scope.

“This means that their views on disability are far more likely to be based on stereotypes than any knowledge of what life is like for a disabled person.”

To help bring out about the opportunity for more disabled and non-disabled relationships to be formed, as well as address some of the negative stereotypes in society, the charity is calling on the Government, businesses and the media to take action to help.

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

“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.

“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, focusing 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.”

As part of its campaign for everyday equality for disabled people, the charity is asking people to submit testimonies of their experiences of prejudice and what they would like to see change.

To take part in the campaign, visit the website HERE 

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