If we become concerned about you or anyone else while using one of our services, we will act in line with our safeguarding policy and procedures. This may involve sharing this information with relevant authorities to ensure we comply with our policies and legal obligations.

Find out how to let us know if you're concerned about another member's safety.
Please read our updated community house rules and community guidelines.

Do the Paralympics change attitudes towards disability?

JenniferU Community member Posts: 108 Pioneering
With the Paralympics approaching, we'd love to hear in what ways you think they influence attitudes. 

Do the Paralympics change attitudes towards disability? 25 votes

Admin_ScopeAlexDebbie_AlumniJenniferUMartin Emerylauon90StaycehtlcyNoraRCallumBrazzo1senaz23Jaynibasiclee08FredrickJenna utddiscriminatebeverly 17 votes
rachelclWingcomLydiaWakerJLTmumonamissonBlindEyeDiogenes42Fundamentalist 8 votes


  • lauon90
    lauon90 Community member Posts: 6 Connected
    I think they do change attitudes towards disability but only for the short amount of time that they are on. They promote a positive portrayal of disability but also quite a limited perspective. There needs to be more programming that presents a more general portrayal of disability, the everyday kind of experiences that people have.
  • Alex
    Alex Posts: 1,305 Pioneering
    edited May 2016
    I really enjoyed the London Paralympics, but in terms of attitudes - I think it was probably some of the things that happened off the back of the Paralympics that have actually influenced people's attitudes. 

    For example, The Last Leg show on Channel 4. It showed that disability can be discussed in a positive and funny way. People watch it because it's entertaining, not because it has disabled presenters on it.

    Or on a more serious note, a year after the Paralympics, there was a new story about how David Weir was refused a house with a downstairs toilet. I'm sure that shocked a lot of people who had never considered the issues that many disabled people have finding suitable homes.
  • JenniferU
    JenniferU Community member Posts: 108 Pioneering
    Yeah I feel like there was a really exciting buzz around the London Paralympics - starting with that impressive Channel 4 ad. I agree with @lauon90 though that it was quite short-lived.

    I think there has been a real mixed bag in the media since then, with all the cuts to disability benefits, and scrounger rhetoric compared with increased presence of disabled people in TV programmes and the media generally.

    Hopefully the Paralympics this year can continue to show what disabled people can do, alongside informing people about the daily barriers that disabled people face every day. 
  • LydiaWaker
    LydiaWaker Community member Posts: 1 Listener
    The Paralympics is excellent at showcasing elite disability sport however I'm not sure it changes attitude and improves understanding of disability. 
    Most disabilities are hidden and sadly society and the environment still disables many people from living equal lives. Seeing disabled people in all areas of employment, in the media and in positions of power may have more impact
  • CallumBrazzo1
    CallumBrazzo1 Community member Posts: 3 Listener
    edited May 2016
    I think televised exposure to everyday experiences, a point I can see made by @lauon90, is a very good point to make.

    I think it does SOME good to change attitudes but we must continue to push....pushing for the realisation that what connects is, sometimes, is ordinary.

    We are all human.
  • JLT
    JLT Community member Posts: 2 Listener
    I thoroughly enjoyed attending the London Games and watching the Paralympics.  But what has that got to do with disabled people ... any more than the Olympics has a connection with the vast majority of non-disabled people?  The Paralympics (and Olympics) are elite sports and the money spent on them is, arguably, to the detriment of grass-roots sports.  (The UK Government REDUCED funding for grass-roots sports, during and since the London Games).

    I've experienced more abuse and disability hate crime since the Paralympics than I ever did beforehand.  I couldn't even rush for a bus without some bus driver or passenger shouting out: "What are you doing, training for the Paralympics?"  Most non-disabled people's expectations of disabled people are raised to an unrealistic extent and the Tragedy Model of Disability reaches new heights, in large part due to the Games and Channel 4's dreadful patronising (Medical Model of Disability) coverage.

    So yes, the Paralympics DOES change attitudes towards "disability" ... but not for the better.
  • basiclee08
    basiclee08 Community member Posts: 66 Courageous
    I loved the Coverage of the Paralympics and in part did does influence attitudes towards disabilities but in part we have to also do our bit by Effecting positive change and keeping para sports in the public Eye Not just when a games or event is on. 
  • Fredrick
    Fredrick Community member Posts: 1 Listener
    Indeed the Paralympics is a strong strategy in changing attitudes towards disAbility. it does so in ways below;

     It gives athletes with disAbility a chance to exposes their hidden abilities in the sports arena, this leaves those who think that disability in inability challenged in their perception.

     sports being a tool for mobilization, very many people are mobilized to be witnesses of what athletes with disability can do through the Paralympics, meaning that many will have an insightful understanding about the actual way how people should think about disability.

    The athletes with disabilies participating in the Paralympic games gain self esteem contributing to their capacity development to stand and talk on their issues with confidence, this in the long run gears a permanent change of attitudes.
  • htlcy
    htlcy Community member Posts: 128 Pioneering
    I'd like to think so! It's undeniable that we've go a very long way to go with regards to changing social perceptions, but I think the Paralympics does portray disabled people in a positive light, at least for the most part. I study perceptions of disability at the minute and it fascinates me to see what people think. I do think other representations through other forms of media aren't necessarily useful, however. There's a fine line between acknowledging someone's difference and using them as an 'inspirational tool' which is, in my opinion, extremely disrespectful and unhelpful. It's a very complex issue!
  • utddiscriminate
    utddiscriminate Community member Posts: 1 Listener
    The paralympics are a great show piece to raise awareness of disability.  Sadly though it also shows how disability can cause segregation.  Why cant the two olympic and paralymic be side by side.  

    For 2 weeks every four years people say wow did you see that.  Yet we return to life soon after.  London hosted the paralympics yet many lindon football clubs access is poor.  Why is this.

    The truth is big organisations like sainsburys want to jump on the band wagon.  Sponsor the event.  Ask them to install a changing place facility in a shop and its a different matter. 

    What would make a difference is doing a paralmpic street style.  10p meter wheelchair sprint with cars parked on kerbs and step as the lift is out of commision.

    The athletes do a great job and overcome so much.  The truth is the real games are played day in and day out in disabled peoples everyday lives. 
  • Martin Emery
    Martin Emery Community member Posts: 10 Connected
    Paralympics to me is a show of how man and woman can overcome and achieve great things. 

    I am a great admirer of athletes like Tanni Grey who have done so much for disabled communities.  The majority of that though has been achieved after leaving sport, and taking up other roles.
    I am also a admirer of George Eyser who was a German-American gymnast who competed in the 1904 Summer Olympics, he went on to earn six medals in one day, including three gold and two silver medals.

    This was an awsum achievement as Eyser competed with a wooden prosthesis for a left leg, having lost his real leg after being run over by a train. Despite his disability, he won gold in the vault, an event which then included a jump over a long horse without aid of a springboard.

    To me one of the proudest moments of my life, was when my three children took part in something called a Super Tri.  Many children with additional needs took part in a triathelon, consisting of a 100m swim, a 800m bike ride and a 200m run/walk/roll. 

    The event was billed as a SuperTri, for super kids, and my two youngest helped there older brother round the course.  It was inspiring to see my eldest cross the final finish line on a walking frame.  To walk 10 feet is difficult for him, and to manage the whole distance in his pacer frame,was brilliant,  but to be able to complete the task with his brothers was something else.

    At that there lies my issue with the paralympics.  Im a firm believer that Disability or the inability todo something, is amplified by the social barriers that the disabled person faces.  One of these barriers is segregation. 

    Im a campaigner for better access for disabled fans at footballclubs.  I set up United Discriminates, and one of the main issues i hear from fans is, I cant sit with my own fans, all the disabled fans are put together infront of the home fans. 

    And to a degree,the paralympics does this also.  The BT World Wheelchair Rugby Challengen ran alongside the Rugby World Cup in 2015.  Ok it didnt get the same TV Coverage, and thats another story,but it was ran alongside the World Cup.  Visitors from allover the world, got to see and hear about Wheelchair Rugby.

    Why on earth cant we integrate the Olympics and the Pralympics together.  This surely would send out a bigger message to the world.  To me the paralympics shows the strengh people have to overcome challanges they face.  Make best of what life has thrown at them. 

    It could be about alot more too it could be about access and Inclusion.  And show Business, and people, that social barriers can be removed, and people with disabilities need not be left on there own, or given a "special bus".  Fit the school bus with a Tail Lift, and let them get on the bus with there mates. 

    The paralympics could smahs down these barriers, imaging athelets side by side,no matter what there ability.  Its time to focus on the Ability.  after all there is no Dis in Ability. 

  • mumonamisson
    mumonamisson Community member Posts: 2 Listener
    I think the Paralympics do raise awareness of disability for the duration of the games, but only to those that watch them.  They're not on mainstream TV like the Olympics are.  Disabled sports are only shown on our TV's during the Paralympics, the other 3 years they're ignored.  
    This is why they have such a limited time span for the impact they make and the changes we see.  London 2012 Paralympics promised so many changes and improvements for disabled people yet there are still only 840 Changing Places toilets for severely disabled people.  
    Our high street stores are still discriminating against this group of society by refusing to make reasonable adjustments to their toilets to allow severely disabled people to use them.
    There are still airports which don't provide hoisting solutions for disabled people to be able to board an aircraft (The UK now has 5 airports with this equipment)
    As far as changing attitudes, I have mixed views.  I think it makes people see that Paralympic athletes are incredible and can achieve anything but it also makes them think that the UK is already accessible and that everyone with a disability has equality - that's simply not true.

  • BlindEye
    BlindEye Community member Posts: 3 Listener
    I volunteered for the 2010 Olympics.  I have kept the e-mail that asked me that as space was at a premium, could I manage without my scooter!  Clearly, it was regarded as an optional accessory! I use a wheelchair, am physically disabled and used to use a scooter for travelling. Somehow, people have got it in their heads that scooter users aren't really disabled!.  I use an expensive travel electric wheelchair now.  
  • Fundamentalist
    Fundamentalist Community member Posts: 133 Courageous
    Hi, Fm here. I have to say a big NO, I do not think the Paralympics make any difference whatsoever to anyone so severely disabled like me and certainly DO NOT represent anyone like me. There is never any mention whatsoever of anyone like me who CANNOT GO to a far too hot country like Rio, or go to a hotel or even go on a plane for hours on end because of the EXCRUCIATING NOISE of the other passengers and then there's the appalling noise of the stadium as well. Things like the Paralympics absolutely do not raise any awareness at all about folk like me who are so totally unrepresented by the mass media. I suffer with really serious misophonia which is not recognised by as a disability at all in the UK which it certainly SHOULD be as it's absolutely appalling and absolutely RUINS entire lives in cases like mine and the NHS totally refuse to recognise it and instead totally wrongly put it on a par with hyperacusys which is something very different and misophonia is often wrongly diagnosed by specialists as something else . No amount of pills or using a Walkman make any difference and it's absolute hell and keeps me totally isolated. Fm.
Complete our feedback form and tell us how we can make the community better.