Over one-third of British population cannot name a famous disabled person

Scope, the national disability organisation, has surveyed the British public to test their attitudes towards disabled people. Despite the achievements of Home Secretary David Blunkett, Professor Stephen Hawking and sportsperson Tanni Grey-Thompson, 36 per cent of those questioned in a YouGov survey could not name one single famous disabled person.

Two-thirds of those questioned believe it is acceptable for a non-disabled person to play the part of a disabled person in drama or film, despite it being generally considered highly offensive for a white actor to play the part of a black person today.

Scope argues that it is time to challenge this level of ignorance and prejudice and is calling for equality for disabled people who, at 10 million people, make up one of the largest minority groups still discriminated against in the UK today. As part of its drive to counter this, the charity today launches a national advertising campaign, featuring disabled people telling their own stories and simply asking to be treated like other people.

The YouGov survey was carried out as part of Scope’s Time to Get Equal campaign, which has the backing of Nelson Mandela, Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Home Secretary David Blunkett, Scope Patron Cherie Booth QC, former US President Bill Clinton and all the main political parties. Scope is calling for an end to disablism - discrimination against disabled people.

Some results were more positive: 87 per cent of people questioned by YouGov said that disabled people should have equal rights with non-disabled people and 40 per cent felt there aren’t enough disabled people on television. However, when asked what they might do themselves to tackle the issue, responses were disappointing: 60 per cent were opposed to paying an extra supplement on council tax to ensure all public transport was accessible to disabled people. Scope has found that over 50 per cent of disabled people still face difficulties using public transport, keeping them excluded from society.

Tony Manwaring, chief executive of Scope, said:
“We are deeply concerned about the level of prejudice revealed by this report. The non-disabled public claims to believe in equality for disabled people, but once you look under the surface prevailing attitudes are shockingly out-dated. The fact that so few people can actually name a famous disabled person demonstrates just how little value is placed on disabled people. Scope is working with disabled and non-disabled people to increase understanding with the aim of bringing about fundamental change at all levels if society.”

Scope is working with both non-disabled and disabled people to find ways of overcoming these barriers. To be part of the campaign to change people’s attitudes and work towards a more inclusive and equal society, visit the Time to Get Equal website at: www.timetogetequal.org.uk

Members of the public can sign Scope’s pledge to support disabled people achieving equality by texting: ‘equality pledge’ and your name to 60003 or call us on: 0845 355 0700 to request a pledge card. Alternatively they can visit one of Scope’s 300 shops across England and Wales and request a pledge card.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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