The poll found that 52% of people are unable to name a high-profile person with a disability – and 99% of people could not successfully identify someone with a learning disability. The most recognised disabled people were Labour MP David Blunkett, who is blind, and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who has motor neurone disease (13% each). Less than 1% of respondents named a high profile person with a learning disability – namely Britain’s Got Talent star Susan Boyle.
Mark Goldring, Mencap’s chief executive said: “In Great Britain there are 10 million people with a disability and 1.5 million people who have a learning disability. Despite this being a sizeable part of the population, the survey reveals that people with disabilities are under-represented in the media and in public life and that people with a learning disability are particularly invisible in UK society.“ Mencap’s Viewpoint magazine has just released the ‘Hotlist’ for 2011 highlighting a number of talented individuals with a learning disability. This shows that Britain has a wealth of disabled talent and we need to see more positive role models in the media and in public life to help remove the stigmas associated with disability and to encourage a shift in public perception to enable people with a disability to be treated equally in society.”