We live in the media age. We have permanent access to rolling news, something happens in Australia at 1:00, it could be being reported in the UK by 1:05.
I think we have a responsibility to keep up with the ongoing events in the world, as so many of them affect us either directly or indirectly.
I am possibly one of the most opinionated people I know.
And as such I have decided to create a platform for those opinions.
Sunday, 9 September 2012
Will the Paralympics really change our attitudes to disability?
Today has marked the end of the 2012 Paralympic games in
London.These games have been held up as
the most successful since the inception of the Paralympic games, with venues
being full and tickets being sold out, something which in the past was unheard
An all round positive attitude has surrounded the games,
with people being in awe of the athletes from all countries, not least our own
British Paralympians whose efforts took us to third place in the medal table.Many people have said that they in fact didn’t
see the disabilities when watching the games, that they just saw the
achievements, and that on the whole, their attitudes and awareness of
disability has changed as a result, and there is a feeling that this will
remain the case.But will it
Let’s look past the fact the games were sponsored by the
company responsible for assessing disabled benefit claimants, or the fact that
the man responsible for wanting to cut disability benefits was handing out
medals at one of the events, not because those points aren’t necessarily
relevant, but because they have in fact been debated in numerous other quarters
and thus there is probably very little left to say.
But let’s instead look at whether the public view as a whole
will change, and whether disability will be seen in a different light now both
publically and in the media.
I can’t help thinking that this is perhaps a bit of a false
reality for some, in a world where they have been given a previously unseen
insight into the world of disability, in an environment where inclusion has
been complete due to the fact the resources were available to make it so, and
that once the resources (the volunteers) go back to their day jobs and the
athletes return to their respective countries, people will remember the games
with fondness, but forget the message they brought, and will go back to living
in blissful ignorance of disability, while many disabled people go back to
living in a world where full inclusion is not yet a reality.
But this doesn’t need to be the case.
Disabled sport is not reserved only for the Paralympics.Our Paralympic athletes are competing all the
time in various events.And there is
other disabled sport out there too.So
what will the media be doing to cover it now that we’ve had a taste for it?The Blind Cricket world cup will be held in
India this year for instance.Will one
of the broadcasters be covering it at all? And if not, why not?
Sport brings people together all the time, so what better
way to raise the profile of disability and keep it raised? The Paralympics are
testament to the fact that people are able to see past the disability and see
the ability of our athletes, therefore there is surely no reason why this trend
can continue, and in doing so alter people’s attitudes in general.
But my fear is that this will be a bit like one of those
charity events like comic relief, where a one off event gets everyone talking
about charity, and giving money to charity, and what can be done, and then once
it’s all over people go back to their lives and yet again become oblivious to
the plight of those around them, until next year’s event brings it all back
into their memory.There’s a risk that
the Paralympics will be the same.People
are enthusiastic about disabled sport now; they have a renewed realisation of
what disabled people are capable of.But
once the memory of the games fade and disabled people are no longer in the
spotlight, those people’s memories will fade, until next time, when perhaps the
commonwealth games are on, but even then, as they’re not in our own country the
enthusiasm will be less.
We need to use this opportunity not to forget.We need to embrace the fact that disability
is not this thing to fear or shy away from, and our broadcasters need to use
this enthusiasm for disabled sport to promote more of it and show more of it on
Acceptance of disability does not have to be a once every
four years event…