A fifth of disabled people think Paralympics is patronising

 

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The Independent Online

Less than a quarter of disabled people and just 11 per cent of Britons overall are excited about the Paralympics, a poll has shown.

Apathy towards the Games is rife, according to the ComRes poll commissioned by disability charity Scope, with less than a third of disabled Britons and 18% of the nation planning on watching all or most Paralympic events.

A significant proportion of disabled Britons also believes that the Paralympics is condescending to disabled people, while only one in five thinks it is inclusive.

A total of 22 per cent believe it is patronising and 20 per cent think it makes disabled people appear second class. Just 23 per cent see it as empowering, while 61 per cent think it is an opportunity for disabled people.

Nine per cent think that the whole thing is a waste of money - compared to 5 per cent of the nation as a whole.

The charity also found that two thirds of disabled people polled have experienced aggression, hostility or name calling - up from 41 per cent in May.

And 46 per cent said that they experience discrimination on at least a weekly basis, compared to 50 per cent in May.

Alice Maynard, chairwoman of Scope, said: "Changing attitudes is about visibility and increased familiarity in everyday life."

She added: "But if the only disabled people that get any profile out of the games are Paralympians - and their feats of sporting success - then it is unlikely that the games will do much to change people's perceptions of ordinary disabled people.

"The challenge for London 2012 is to make sure disabled people are involved not just on track and field but throughout the Games and the celebrations before and afterwards."

The charity also expressed concerns about provisions for the influx of disabled people into the capital during the Games.

Alice Maynard, chairwoman of Scope, said: "It's just not clear how London will cope with having so many people and so many disabled people in the same place at the same time."

Paralympics GB could not be contacted for comment.

Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive officer of the British Paralympic Association, said: "No one disputes that the Paralympic Games has a crucial role to play in changing perceptions of disability.

"However for Scope to suggest that it would be appropriate to scrap the competition now and combine it with the Olympics fails to appreciate its unique purpose, scale and power.

"The Paralympics is already the second largest sporting event in the world, and London will see it take another huge leap forward in terms of awareness and understanding.

"We are working hard, along with Channel 4, the BBC and the London 2012 Organising Committee, to raise the profile of the Games, our sports and athletes.

"The brilliant success of ticket sales and the increase in media coverage indicates to me that, contrary to the survey's sample, there is a big public appetite for Paralympic sport.

"While there is an agenda in terms of attitudes and perceptions of disability, the BPA wants as many people as possible, both disabled and non-disabled, to watch the Paralympics next year because first and foremost it is a world class sporting event in its own right."PA

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