Britons see disabled people as inferior

Disabled people are generally seen as inferior to other people in Britain according to new research - which also shows strong public backing for measures to support disabled people's equality.

In an online survey of more than 2,000 adults by leading pollster ComRes for disability charity Scope, 53 per cent say they think most people in British society see disabled people as inferior.

In addition more than half (56 per cent) said they think disabled people are generally viewed as "victims" or "figures of pity" and 38 per cent say they are even seen as a "drain on resources".

However, on a more positive note the survey highlighted strong public support for action in favour of disabled people's equality - 83 per cent say they would complain if they saw disabled people being treated unfairly. And 59 per cent say they would like to help raise awareness about the importance of access for disabled people.

The survey also highlights differing public attitudes towards inappropriate words often used to describe disabled people and which are often employed casually in daily life. There is strong opposition to the use of the word "spaz" - 73 per cent of people think this is offensive and 71 per cent think the same of the word "retarded". However, 15 per cent think the term "moron" is harmless.

Despite the fact that most people find the words "spaz" and "retarded" offensive, more than a third (35%) of 18-24-year-olds think these words are commonly used. This is much higher for young people than for other age groups where it falls to 6% among those aged 65 and over.

When asked what measures are needed to tackle discrimination against disabled people there is strongest support for improvements to public transport services in Britain to make these more accessible. This is backed by 93 per cent of people - just ahead of better access to public buildings and introducing tougher measures against people who occupy accessible parking spaces without a blue badge.

Commenting on the survey, Scope's Chair Alice Maynard, said:

"Our survey has unearthed some fascinating findings, showing how most people recognise that disabled people are generally viewed in a negative way in British society. This certainly chimes with my own experience as a disabled person, and that of many of the disabled people we work with, who have to battle stereotypes, low expectations and sometimes outright hostility in our daily lives.

"However, it is encouraging that there is strong public support to tackle discrimination against disabled people. This shows a real willingness to make the changes needed for disabled people to be treated more fairly and equally."

Source: Scope news, 7th June 2009