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The Social Disadvantages Faced By Disabilities Sociology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 1426 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Disability refers to the social disadvantage faced by those people who have impairments, and under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, it refers to the physical, sensory or mental impairment which seriously affect an individual’s day-to-day activities. (Stephen Moore 2001) and Poverty is the state or condition of being poor, having little or no money, goods, or means of support, indigence. (dictionary.reference.com) 17th-05-2011.

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People’s health is severely affected by poverty which makes people vulnerable to illness and lack access to appropriate treatment and care. Poor people are more vulnerable to disability because of their poor living conditions that makes them more vulnerable to mental and physical impairments. Poverty causes disabilities and can furthermore lead to secondary disabilities for those individuals who are already disabled, as a result of the poor living conditions, health endangering employment, malnutrition, poor access to health care and education opportunities etc. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 500 million people – between seven and 10 per cent of the world’s population – have impairments that are preventable and treatable. Over 80 per cent of these people live in developing countries. (www.healthlink.org.uk)

A substantially higher proportion of individuals who live in families with disabled members live in poverty, compared to individuals who live in families where no one is disabled, 23 per cent of individuals in families with at least one disabled member live in relative income poverty, on a Before Housing Costs basis, compared to 16 per cent of individuals in families with no disabled member. 29 per cent of children in families with at least one disabled member are in poverty, a significantly higher proportion than the 20 per cent of children in families with no disabled member. The employment-rate gap between disabled and non-disabled people has decreased from around 36 per cent in 2002 to around 29 per cent in 2010. However, disabled people are far less likely to be in employment. Although there have been significant improvements in the employment rates of disabled people in the last decade, the employment rates of disabled people are around 48 per cent, compared with around 78 per cent of non-disabled people. Disabled people are around twice as likely not to hold any qualifications compared to non-disabled people, and around half as likely to hold a degree-level qualification. 24 per cent of working age disabled people do not hold any formal qualification, compared to ten per cent of working age non-disabled people. 11 per cent of working age disabled people hold degree-level qualifications compared to 22 per cent of working age non-disabled people. Disabled people are significantly more likely to experience unfair treatment at work than non-disabled people. In 2008, 19 per cent of disabled people experienced unfair treatment at work compared to 13 per cent of non-disabled people. Around a third of disabled people experience difficulties related to their impairment in accessing public, commercial and leisure goods and services. Although the gap in non-decent accommodation has closed over recent years, one in three households with a disabled person still live in non-decent accommodation. One in five disabled people requiring adaptations to their home believe that their accommodation is not suitable


Disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people . Based on the ‘relative poverty line’ in the UK, (which equates to living in a household with income of less than 60% of median national income) recent estimates suggest that around 30% of disabled people live below this income line, compared to around 16% of non-disabled people. Disabled people face extra costs related to managing their impairment that amount, on average, to approximately an extra quarter above normal expenditure, compared to non disabled people. Because of the extra costs of disability the real poverty line could actually be much higher for disabled people – when the extra costs of disability are factored in, well over half of disabled people live on less than 60% of median national income, as opposed to the unadjusted figure of around 30%. The employment rate among disabled people remains far below that of non-disabled people, with around 50% of disabled people not in work, compared to around 20% of non-disabled people. Disabled people who are in work are at a substantially higher risk of in-work poverty, on average earning less than their non-disabled peers and being more likely to work in low skill, low paid jobs.

Identify a range of sources of news about a current issue and analyse how each source reports the issues differently and any bias that may exist.

It is true to say that the media is an extremely important part of our everyday life and as an industry has been critical in the dissemination of information to the mass population. However the influence that the media holds over society has not always been used to society’s benefit, particularly in relation to disability, where the media has continued to add to the discrimination of disabled people

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White, male, middle-class and able-bodied men often form media representations of disability. Disability is always presented as a problem of disabled individuals themselves rather than something that is created by society. For example, it is not being in a wheelchair which creates all the difficulties, but the fact that buildings and roads are not designed for wheelchair access. Disabled people are rarely featured in the media, and when they do, they are always in roles defined by their disability. (The media often use impairment to add atmosphere to a piece of writing, film scene or radio play for example. The use of disability as evil or superhuman leads to one dimensional basic disabled characters who as Harnet (2000, pg 21) states are, “Used not for their complexity as people but for their easily identifiable impairment which is exploited by scriptwriters for dramatic effect, for emotional appeal or for blatant symbolism”. For example the recent televised programme “The Musical Genius” (Channel 5, 2006) about a 26 year old blind autistic man, with the IQ of a 4 year old. Here the viewer spends one hour watching Derek only through his “extraordinary” music talent and does not get a real sense of who he is. The audience is distanced from him through his incredible musical ability and Derek’s impairment becomes an object of fascination. As Barnes states (1992, pg12) that disabled characters have “‘super’ qualities in order to elicit respect from non-disabled people.” In newspapers and magazines impairments are used to, according to Harnett (2000, pg21) “embody, or personify evil”. For example headlines such as The Sun headline in September 2003 “Bonkers Bruno Locked up”. Barnes (2003, pg9) states “Newspaper articles sensationalizing the connection between intellectual impairments and criminality are common in both the tabloids and the ‘quality’ papers.” the media focus on impairment creates one dimensional characters. The lack of disabled characters in “normal” roles is evident thus perpetuating their absence in the social structure. The lack of disabled people as family members, as employees and employers, as mothers, fathers and partners means that disabled people lack “normal” role models. As Harnett (2000 pg.22) states the majority of disabled characters are, “more commonly portrayed in dramatic, dangerous or challenging situations.” When disabled characters have been portrayed as “normal”, they have often been one dimensional and blend in the background. Often they are not given their own story lines and tend to act as a supporting role. The people surrounding the disabled person seem to grab the lime light and real everyday issues faced by a disabled person are not explored. This may be a result of media professionals always assuming that the audience is non-disabled. (www.disabilityplanet.co.uk). 10/03/2011

Explain the methods used to objectively validate reported issues on social welfare.



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