It’s now almost a year since the Paralympics started and we’ve been asking disabled people and their families if they feel the games made a difference to their day-to-day lives.
There’ll be a lot of discussion next week about legacy. Scope is going to be urging journalists and the Government to listen to disabled people’s views.
One issue that keeps coming up is “benefits scrounger rhetoric”, and how this leads to people being abused in the street and being trolled online.
We asked on Twitter and Facebook for people to share their own experiences:
Bullying and abuse
Some people responded with shocking stories of unprovoked verbal and physical abuse:
“Just the other night one twitter account dedicated to highlighting the abuse of blue badge bays has decided to shut down because of the abuse it gets. One of my friends is seeking a judicial review and they tried to use his twitter use against him. I have a specific troll who tells me I am just lazy, I could work if i tried and so on. Any time there is a documentary style TV programme featuring sick or disabled people it stirs up a lot of abuse and general ignorance.” – Ema via email
“I’m leaning on my crutches by the broccoli when a lady in her late 50s walks up behind me shoves me hard into the broccoli box – face first – and calls me a disability scrounging unrepeatable in front of my children. My most embarrassing moment.” – Tinna on Facebook
“Someone walked into the back of my wheelchair whilst in supermarket queue, which apparently is my fault as “your sort shouldn’t be cluttering up the shops”.” – Teddy on Facebook
And it’s not just from strangers:
“I’ve had ‘friends’ explain how I just have to accept and expect romantic rejection because disability is ugly.” – NQ videos on Twitter
“I was told by a ‘friend’ that I shouldn’t be allowed a mobility car for my wheelchair using son with CP.” – Naomi on Twitter
Many people spoke about the problem of impairments that aren’t immediately obvious:
“I was once accused of stealing a disabled persons bus pass. It had my name and my photo on. I am partially sighted. You can’t see the damage I have to my optic nerves, nor how much I can really see….I’ve had someone tell me I shouldn’t be on DLA because there’s nothing wrong with me. I don’t feel the need to broadcast every single medical problem I have.” – Sofie on Facebook
“People seem to think that ‘disability’ means a missing leg, or using a wheelchair/crutches; it can be, but sometimes a disability affects people more subtly and they still need assistance.” – Caitlin on Facebook
“I have epilepsy and hold a bus pass because of it – I’ve had some dirty looks off people for using it in the past.” – Kath on Facebook
Unashamed and fighting back
Some disabled people told us that they refuse to be ashamed of the money they receive and are fighting back at the bullies:
“I’m not ashamed of having claimed out of work benefits and I refuse to be ashamed of my DLA.” – Natalya on Facebook
“If anyone abuses me they get far worse back. I am sick and tired of being abused because of something that is no fault of my own. I will not be bullied or abused by people who believe the rhetoric” – Ian on Facebook
Parents told us that they didn’t care what people thought – the well-being of their children comes first:
“I have a two year old with CP. There would be no way I could take him to his physio without the extra help we get through DLA. If that makes me a beggar then so be it. I really don’t care as long as my son gets the best possible care and start in life !” – Darren on Facebook
“My daughter has CP. I listen to people going on about benefits and get fed up with listening to the constant moaning. I only want what is best for her and for those that do complain about disabled – stop and think – how would they feel if it was them?” – Val on Facebook
Whilst some parents are taking more extreme measures!
“My son has severe CP. Rules we are working on when he is in his electric chair are
- If someone stares, smile at them – if they still stare, run them over.
- Three “excuse me”s from Mum and Dad and if they still wont shift – run them over.
- Three honks on his horn then …… yup, run them over” – Wag on Facebook