From victims to heroes to scroungers: changes in the public perception of disabled people

Topic Selected: Disabilities

General Article icon Type: General Article

Disability and disabled people have regularly featured in the media over the past few months. Radio 4 is currently running a series exploring disability across history, we have had extensive coverage of the Oscar Pistorius court case in South Africa and disabled people feature in many of the scare stories about the NHS that are circulating. Underlying all of this are changes in the way that disability and disabled people are viewed within the media and by the general public.

In 2011, the World Health Organization published the first World Report on Disability.  They estimated that more than one billion people across the world, approximately 15% of the population, live with a disability. A rise in numbers from the 1970s is accounted for by the ageing population and the increasing number of people living with long-term disabling conditions.  Considering the UK, one in ten people live with a disability – the most common being rheumatoid arthritis. The evidence f

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