By Debbie le Quesne

Disabled good as gold – but attitudes are still shameful

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It doesn’t seem many weeks ago I was blogging about the Paralympics and trumpeting the new realisation which seemed so apparent that disabled people were quite literally good as gold.

So I was really shocked last night to hear on the news that the Games, which were meant to change our views of people with disabilities, had failed to do so.

What is wrong with people?

Just 100 days since the Games ended, a new survey carried out by Scope shows that discrimination continues.

While Paralympians themselves continue to enjoy celebrity status, two-thirds of people living with disabilities feel that the games have done nothing to improve how they are treated and spoken to. How shameful is this!

         Some 72 per cent said that the Paralympics had a positive impact on attitudes towards the disabled in general; 53 per cent said they still regularly experience discrimination: and 67 per cent said that the Paralympics have done nothing to improve the way they are spoken to


The Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC has now called for more to be done about the number of hate crimes against those with disabilities.

Starmer said on ITV News: “Like everybody else I thought the Paralympics were fantastic, the sheer number of people that watched and appreciated what was going on was quite incredible.

“I hope that has enhanced our understanding of people with disabilities, my fear is that the surveys continue to show a high level of abuse. It is the surveys of ordinary people, day in day out, that are really important to this debate.”

One man with learning difficulties has said that he has repeatedly suffered abuse in the street due to his disability.

Roger Grange told ITV News that as well as name calling by both children and parents he has also been physically attacked.

The 60-year-oldsaid that he did not believe that the Paralympics has had any impact on the way people spoke to him or treated him.

Paralympian Dave Clarke, who captained the Blind Football team, said that the games are not responsible for changing attitudes, “I think it’s very naive to expect the Paralympics to solve the ills of discrimination and abuse.”

And so we could go on and on . . . and on. After hearing the report I just felt sad, knowing how hard our carers who worked with the disabled lobby on their behalf for a better deal in life.

For me and countless others, the Paralympics was a golden milestone and hugely enlightening.

I still think I believe that education can change people’s prejudices, but I’m struggling to make a good case for that philosophy at present. Surely the Paralympics with the GB teams securing 120 medals, 34 of them gold, was the greatest lesson anyone could have given to enhance the cause for society to embrace these brilliant athletes as equals. Apparently not, it seems.

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