How comfortable are you around people with intellectual disability?

30 December 2019

How would you feel if you lived next door to someone with an intellectual disability or if they sat next to you on the bus?

It turns out; the answer depends on how severe the person’s impairment is.

New research from Endeavour Foundation released for International Day of People with a Disability asked Australians to assess their comfort level around people with intellectual disability in specific social situations such as at a concert, on public transport and dining next to each other in the same restaurant.

Up to one-in-ten Australians reported feelings of discomfort around people with a mild intellectual disability but that figure rises to nearly one-in-four if the person’s impairment is significant.

Endeavour Foundation CEO Andrew Donne said the results show there’s room for improvement in Australians’ inclusive attitudes.

“Through our Inclusion Survey, we wanted to hold up a mirror to society and reflect Australia’s social attitudes towards people with an intellectual disability,” Mr Donne said.

“We measured how comfortable Australians are in various social situations such as at a music concert, at a restaurant or on public transport.

“We found that generally Australians are comfortable around people with intellectual disability, which is good, but there is still some discrimination out there.

“Imagine for a moment if a quarter of all Australians said they’d feel in some way uncomfortable sat next to a person from a minority group at a music concert or on the bus – it just doesn’t sit right does it?

“However, nearly a quarter of people surveyed reported some feelings of discomfort next to someone with a severe intellectual impairment in those scenarios.

“That’s a discriminatory attitude and we need to change that.

“We hope our research can trigger a broader public discussion on how we can increase social inclusion for people with an intellectual because they simply want to participate in society like anybody else.”

The results of Endeavour Foundation’s research are from two representative surveys of more than 1000 Australians conducted by PureProfile.

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