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Press portrayal of disabled people: a rise in hostility fuelled by austerity?

Disability Rights UK report calls on Paralympics legacy to be the end of press stigmatisation of disabled people

7 September 2012

Disability Rights UK has surveyed disabled people’s views of press coverage of disability – examining the rise of hostility towards disabled people and its causes.

Findings from disabled people surveyed were that:

  • Over three quarters (77%) could cite negative press articles about disabled people; only a third (35%) a positive story;
  • 94% suggested press portrayal of disability equality issues was ‘unfair’ and 76% said the volume of negativity was ‘significantly increasing’;
  • 91% said there was a link between negative press portrayal of disabled people and rising hostility/hate crime;
  • Nearly half (42%) suggested the government was responsible for rising press negativity and hostility towards disabled people.

Neil Coyle, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Disability Rights UK, says:

“As we celebrate the greatest ever Paralympics it is vital that we challenge negative stereotypes of disabled people in the media. We agree with Seb Coe that these Games will be defined by the legacy they leave behind. The government must seize this opportunity to combat the rise in hostility disabled people are experiencing.”

Kevin Craig, Managing Director of Political Lobbying and Media Relations (PLMR), co-sponsors of the report, says:

“The way disabled people are referred to by government and the media has a major effect on their lives. Today’s report shows just how serious an issue this has become and the urgent need to address the problem. The Paralympics are all about showing that anybody has the ability to be extraordinary. Their legacy must be an end to the stigmatisation of disabled people once and for all.”

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