Victoria Wright: The things we learned about disability

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The Independent Online

What a relief. The world now knows that disabled people can be brilliant athletes and can put on a damn good show. Best of all, the Paralympics proved to health and safety fascists that you can have more than one wheelchair user in a venue without them being a major fire hazard.

Another great leap was in how the Games challenged perceptions. This is what I think the Paralympics has taught us: * Disabled people can do jobs other than piano tuners, box assemblers, benefit cheats, and former Labour Home Secretaries. * Disabled people can be stroppy. Why did none of the tabloids call Pistorious "Oscar Pissed Off-ious?" Are disabled people not worthy of terrible puns too? * Disabled people know F words. Especially Jody Cundy. * Edwina Currie now knows disabled people can be gorgeous. Particularly the Italians. Even the ones in wheelchairs! Bless her. * Dwarfs can throw and not just be thrown. Did you see Iraq's Ahmed Naas win silver at the men's javelin F40 final? * Disabled people are much better at booing Government ministers than non-disabled people.

It's a shame all this educating had to end. My fear is that it will soon be back to those shock-docs about how little Mohammed has no face because a cactus ate it. There can, however, be a legacy. There should be more public money for disability sport. And broadcasters may employ more disabled people.

We should be realistic however. How long till the Daily Mail's coverage reverts from "inspirational athletes!" to "Disability benefit cheat caught playing football!"? Can we hope for disabled athletes in commercials for Pantene shampoo like Victoria Pendleton? While society is happy to call us inspirational, we're never going to be aspirational, so it's unlikely. But surely some PR genius can see the potential of David Weir advertising deodorant? If the climate of disability pride means a contract for Weir selling Lynx or Ellie Simmonds advertising Bazuka foot gel, then it will be a good start.

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