After the world celebrated International Day of Disabled Persons this week, I’d like to ask your readers – has anything really changed for people with disabilities in the last 50 years? Well, we’ve done a survey which suggests maybe not enough!
I work for Vitalise, a charity that provides desperately-needed respite breaks for people with disabilities and carers at our centres around the UK. We recently conducted a survey to mark our 50th anniversary and found that almost half of people with disabilities said they will need more support to lead independent lives in the years to come – but only a quarter of non-disabled people agreed with them.
What’s more, we found that more than half of people with disabilities believed that society’s negative attitude towards them was the single biggest issue they faced today, with almost a fifth saying they didn’t believe they were being treated any better by society than they were 50 years ago! All this just little more than a year on from the London 2012 Paralympics.
What does this say about our understanding of the everyday needs of people with disabilities today? People with disabilities want to play a part in society, to make a contribution, but too often they are held back by society’s negative attitudes and lack of understanding about their everyday needs. Our worry is that this lack of understanding may lead to suspicion or even resentment towards people with disabilities and hold them back from leading dignified, independent lives. We must not let that happen.
So we’re asking your readers to join us in calling for a society where people with disabilities have the same opportunities to pursue their dreams and make a meaningful contribution to their communities as everybody else.For more information about Vitalise and how you can support us, visit www.vitalise.org.uk or call 0303 303 0147.