Earlier this week, the Department for Work and Pensions published a survey from 10,000 respondents which revealed that 68% of British people think that the public attitude towards disabled people has improved since the Paralympics.

However, while 70.7% of non-disabled people agreed with the statement, only 56.1% of disabled people felt the same, highlighting a significant gap in perception.

While Mike Penning MP has lauded the results as emphasising a “transformation of attitudes”, the difference between responses from the disabled and non-disabled suggests that the reality of disabled people’s experiences is not tallying with public perceptions of disability.

The survey, from the Office for National Statistics, was published to celebrate two years since the Paralympic Games in London, though the findings suggest there is more to be done to promote equality and social acceptance.

Sophie Christiansen, the Paralympic equestrian who won three gold medals and is a member of the Government’s Paralympic Legacy Advisory Group, told Channel 4 News that more must be done to encourage tolerance and cohesion among the disabled and non-disabled.

“I think the Government is doing a lot of great things… But there is a still long way to go in understanding what it is like to be disabled and how much support we need,” Christiansen commented.

“I think the Paralympics did great things but it only really presented a small proportion of disability and I think we need to focus on that community now by creating more role models, [highlighting] different disabilities in different areas to prove that disabled people aren’t a burden on society but can actually contribute.”

United Response has long campaigned for the inclusion of disabled people in all aspects of society and welcomes this call for all disabled people, not simply athletes, to be recognised as valuable and valued members of the community.

Our 2013 Campaigns Panel report, 'Superhumans or Scroungers?', followed a realisation of the dichotomy so prevalent in public discourse, most notably within the media, that disabled people were regarding as either superhero-like figures or scroungers living off benefits to which they are not entitled.

The report noted that those with learning disabilities, mental health needs and other hidden disabilities are rarely included in news stories, while the disabled community are most often asked to share their views primarily on disability related issues.

True equality will only be possible if the disabled are able to join public debate around all societal issues. As the results of the ONS survey show, there is still much to do to encourage greater inclusion and acceptance of disabled people.

How has public attitude to disability affected you? Why not send us a postcard tell us about your experiences?

Go to postcardsfromtheedges.org.uk for more information.

Gemma Taylor, media assistant