Findings were released today over a new survey in regards to public attitudes towards people living with disabilities in Ireland.  The survey found that overall attitudes have changed for the better in comparison to previous surveys conducted. However, the survey also found that people living with disabilities reported lower levels of satisfaction with life and happiness.

Today, the Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Disability, Mr. Finian McGrath, TD, launched the National Disability Authority’s (NDA) fourth National Survey of Public Attitudes to Disability in Ireland.

Some of the more notable results of the survey included:

An overall improvement in attitudes towards people with disabilities when compared to the last survey in 2011. While attitudes to people with mental health difficulties are more positive, mental illness continues to experience more negative attitudes than other disabilities and this is in keeping with international surveys.

Only 36% of respondents believed people with disabilities are treated fairly in Irish society compared to 44% in 2011 and 40% in 2006.

More respondents thought that people with disabilities receive equal educational opportunities (38%) compared to employment opportunities (18%).

Over 75% of respondents agreed that people with a disability should have priority over others in certain circumstances (for example, waiting for social housing, hospital waiting lists and increases in welfare payments).

There was increased agreement that people with disabilities should have fulfilment through sexual relationships and have children if they wish.

People with disabilities reported more social isolation (32% versus 22%) and less participation in social activities than those without a disability (for example, 28% versus 50% took a holiday abroad in the last 12 months).

People with disabilities reported a lower level of satisfaction with life (7.3 versus 8.0 out of 10) and lower levels of happiness (7.4 versus 8.2 out of 10) compared to people without disabilities.

The NDA commissioned Behaviour & Attitudes to conduct a nationally representative survey of 1,294 adults in 2017. Chair of the NDA, Ms Helen Guinan, welcomed the report stating that, “This is the fourth such survey conducted by the NDA since 2001 and offers a rich portrait of public attitudes to disability and how they have changed over time.”

She added that: “Despite an apparent increase in positive attitudes in 2017, it is essential to continue increasing employment opportunities and promoting inclusive education for people with disabilities and to reduce stigma associated with mental illness. Ireland is at an early stage in transformational programmes for people with disabilities with many policies and strategies developed and being implemented. The full implementation of these strategies and policies should result in further increases in positive attitudes.”

Minister of State, McGrath, welcomed the report and said: “It is great to see that attitudes are steadily improving, and I welcome that, but I think it is also clear from this report that there is more to do to ensure that everyone is made more aware of the capacity and the potential of those with disabilities to live lives on an equal basis with the rest of us.  The findings are relevant to all of us and I include employers as clearly positive attitudes by employers will help address the low level of job opportunities for people with disabilities who want to work.”

The Minister also launched the NDA’s Annual Report 2016 which covers the projects the NDA was working on across many policy areas to bring research evidence and advice to influence policy and practice relevant to the lives of people with disabilities. The report shows how the NDA’s role in promoting universal design of the built environment, products, services and ICT is being advanced with professional, standards and education bodies.

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