A survey by a leading stairlift comparison website suggests that 2/3rds of people don’t feel any sense of shame associated with using a mobility aid. The results, published last week, show differing attitudes to different mobility aids. 350 people who used mobility aids were surveyed earlier this year. The results reflect the fact that attitudes toward disability in the UK need to change as a whole.
This blog post will look at the different issues around the stigma of using mobility aids.
Age and mobility aids
The younger you are the less happy you are to use a mobility aid. The older you are the less bothered you are. The survey showed that up to the age of 60, people are bothered about using mobility aids whereas before they reach this age, people feel more of a stigma attached to it.
This may well be associated with the idea that at a certain age you are happy to have something that aids your freedom. Before the age of 60, people feel the general stigma associated with disability. A 2012 survey of stigma and disability suggests that disabled people have a long way to go before being treated equally in society.
The stairlift comparison survey suggested that having a stairlift is far less stigmatised for those who have them than other mobility aids. Where less than 10% felt a stigma associated with using a stairlift, nearly 30% felt that mobility scooters caused problems in the way people perceived them.
Mobility scooters are used in the public eye. Stairlifts are at home. Could this be the reason for the differences in the way people perceive mobility aids?
Stigma and disability
Such stigma over mobility aids might be something to do with the way that disability is reported on in the national press. You only need to read a tabloid newspaper once or twice a week to see a ‘scrounger’ story. In 2012 there was a public attitudes survey carried out which showed that the British public believed that 30-40% of those claiming disability benefits were claiming them fraudulently. In fact, only 3% of disability benefit claims are either ‘official error’ or actual fraud.
From these attitude surveys, we see that the use of mobility aids are probably stigmatised by the overall attitude toward disability in the UK. For any stigma to be dealt with towards mobility aids, society as a whole needs to
change its mind.