Paralympics did have a lasting effect on our views of people with a learning disability

News item posted: 19 June 2017

On the Games' anniversary study finds that positive impact endures

New research from Turning Point has highlighted the lasting positive effect of the Paralympic Games on the nation's perception of those living with a learning disability. A year after the Paralympics, a third of Brits stated that the Games meant they now had a more positive impression of those with a learning disability.

The London Paralympics was the first since 2000 at which those with a learning disability were allowed to compete. This research shows the power of large-scale public events in changing the public's attitude towards those living with a learning disability.

However, the study also showed that the British public consider the experience of those living with a learning disability in the UK to be deteriorating. In a marked increase from a similar survey conducted in 2010, nearly two-thirds of the British public think those living with a learning disability are discriminated against more than any other group in society.

Furthermore, over a third of those interviewed drew particular attention to discrimination in the fields of housing and healthcare costs. This reflects the well-documented pressure on resources in these areas, which is being felt amongst all groups in society.

The study also revealed a lack of knowledge about the needs of those with a learning disability, and even of what constitutes a learning disability. For example, 40% of people wrongly believe that mental illness is a learning disability and 36.1% of people wrongly believe that cerebral palsy is a learning disability.

This lack of understanding extends to the life experience and needs of those with a learning disability. Despite the fact that over half of people believe that those with a learning disability should live in the community more than 20% of people still believe that the most suitable housing arrangement is a care home or secure hospital.

Lord Victor Adebowale, Chief Executive of Turning Point said; "It is positive that a third of people think that the London Paralympics has changed their perception of people with a learning disability for the better. High profile events like this which focus on ability rather than disability go a long way towards breaking down the stigma and discrimination which clearly still exists."

"However, we need to use the legacy of events like these to ensure real change in the day to day lives of people with a learning disability. Changing perceptions is just the start."

Notes

• The research for Turning Point was carried out online by Opinion Matters from 26 - 30 July 2013 amongst a panel resulting in 1776 UK adult respondents

• The 2010 research for Turning Point was carried out online by Opinion Matters from 25- 29 June 2010 amongst a panel resulting in 1105 UK adult respondents