Report reveals wide spread prejudice against Disabled people

The 23rd report into British Social Attitudes, published today by the National Centre for Social Research has revealed widespread prejudice against disabled people.

A chapter in the latest British Social Attitudes (BSA) paints a gloomy picture about the extent of prejudice against disabled people in Britain and especially those
with mental health conditions. It is the first dedicated
BSA module to report on public awareness of and
attitudes to disability.

The findings are as follows:

• 75% of respondents think that there is prejudice against disabled people in Britain today - but only 25% think that there is a lot of prejudice. Yet, as the results go on to show, the survey's respondents display views which indicate quite widespread prejudice.

• More than half (52%) of the respondents don't think of schizophrenia as a disability. Just 44% think that someone with cancer or an older person who needs a hearing aid is disabled, and only a quarter think that someone with a severe facial disfigurement is disabled. But nearly a third think that someone who is temporarily on crutches because of a broken leg qualifies as a disabled person. So while the legal definition of disability under the DDA is any person who has a physical or mental impairment or long-term health condition, which has a substantial and long-term effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities, the general public appears to have a far narrower view - one that is purely focused on physical impairments

• There's a lot of unease at the prospect of coming into contact with people with certain impairments. Only 29% say that they would feel comfortable if someone with schizophrenia moved in next door to them, with only 19% saying that they would feel comfortable about a person with schizophrenia marrying a close relative of theirs.

• It's not just mental health impairments, though: only 21% say they would be comfortable with a close relative marrying someone with a long-term health condition like MS or severe arthritis, and just over half would be comfortable with a family member walking down the aisle with a blind person.

Sir Bert Massie, Chairman of the Disability Rights Commission said:-
 “Despite 12 years of disability discrimination legislation the report reveals that disabled people are still struggling to rid themselves of the tag ‘second class citizens’. When faced with disability, Britons are opting to keep their distance but this is the root cause of prejudice and discrimination. We clearly have a long way to go before disabled and non-disabled people work together, learn together, and share the same communities. As countless other examples show it is only in this way that prejudice is broken down.”
Sir Bert continued: “Yet most people say they would not be very comfortable living next door to someone with a mental health condition and prejudice is also pronounced when they were asked how they would feel if a close relative married someone with a long-term health condition like multiple sclerosis or severe arthritis. Nearly 30 per cent were uncomfortable with the prospect. These findings catalogue a degree of social repulsion towards disabled people that, if allowed to fester unchecked, will be encouraging a segregated society.”

The survey also revealed a major factor in reducing prejudice was knowing a disabled person. People with first or second hand experience of disability tend to perceive prejudice to be more widespread and hold less negative attitudes towards disabled people.

Posted by, Asif Yusuf


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