Public perceptions of disabled people: evidence from the British social attitudes survey 2009

Document type
Staniland, Luke
Office for Disability Issues
Date of publication
1 January 2011
Disabled people, Social Policy
Social welfare
Material type

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Report drawing on evidence from the British social attitudes survey 2009 in order to examine public perceptions of disabled people in Great Britain. The Office for Disability Issues included a module of questions on both the 2005 and 2009 British social attitudes surveys, the aim of which was to measure public attitudes towards disabled people and disability. The results show that attitudes towards disabled people have improved since 2005. In 2009 a smaller proportion of people said that they thought of disabled people as getting in the way, or with discomfort and awkwardness. There is, however, belief that prejudice towards disabled people is widespread. Almost 8 out of 10 respondents felt that there is either a lot or a little prejudice towards disabled people. Whilst few people reported openly negative views, many respondents expressed views that suggest they see disabled people as less capable than non-disabled people. Respondents were least comfortable with people with learning disabilities or mental health conditions in situations where disabled people were in positions of authority, such as being a Member of parliament or a boss at work. These scenarios were also amongst those that respondents found least comfortable in respect of people with physical or sensory impairments.

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