A new report released by SCOPE has revealed some shocking statistics on the level of abuse and prejudice faced by disabled people in the UK.
Discrimination and prejudice is rife on our public transport network. The survey also revealed that 47% of disabled people faced some form of discrimination while travelling on public transport.
Alarmingly 15% said they faced “high-level” abuse.
The survey, conducted by ComRes, also highlighted that 31% of the disabled people questioned felt they had been discriminated against by a bus driver. This rose to 37% in London.
29% said they had experienced discriminatory behaviour from a taxi driver; whilst 25% stated they had faced prejudice from train staff.
32% of disabled Londoners questioned said that they had been ignored by a taxi or bus they were trying to hail.
These findings highlight once again that it not just the physical inaccessibility of transport services – gaps, steps, obstacles – that many of us have to contend with, but also prejudice from non-disabled passengers and regrettably some transport staff.
Improved training for transport staff – and penalties for bad customer service – need to be taken more seriously by transport providers and commissioners.
Indeed more staff, who are visible and willing and able to assist, are needed to ensure that disabled passengers can get to where we need to go without being hassled or abused. Recent cuts to staffing levels on the London Underground seriously undermine this and fly in face of reason.
It appears the general hostility towards disabled people has become worse – no surprise perhaps in a political climate where politicians and the media alike have been demonising disabled people as scroungers and benefit cheats.
The survey also found:
•More than half of disabled people say they have experienced hostility, aggression or violence from a stranger because of their condition or impairment (56%).
•Half of disabled people say they experience discrimination on either a daily or weekly basis.
•More than a third (37%) said people’s attitudes towards them have got worse over the past year.
•58% of people thought others did not believe that they were disabled and 50% of people said they felt others presumed they did not work.
Richard Hawkes, chief executive of SCOPE, responded to the findings:
“Recent government spending decisions look to be eroding away the very foundations of this support. Without it, disabled people will be unable to play their part in society, in the workplace, in shops, restaurants, offices and community spaces.
“It is visibility and increased familiarity in everyday life that challenges negative perceptions and attitudes towards disabled people. Unless disabled people can contribute to society, attitudes will continue to deteriorate and they risk being further excluded from society.”