Discrimination against the disabled

Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Active prejudice towards the handicapped
Stigmatization of the handicapped
Victimization of the disabled
Cruelty to the disabled
Violence against the incapacitated

Widespread ignorance, aversion and stigmatization acts as barriers to the social integration of people with disabilities. Those barriers block access to education, training, employment, social and cultural participation and the exercise of full citizenship.

Violence against disabled people is a phenomenon which is not uncommon in society. Research consistently proves that people with disabilities are at greater risk of being abused or suffering violence than the non-disabled population.


Coming up with a workable definition of impairment has been (and continues to be) a hot topic. The UK government arbitrates on matters of disability using the following definition: ‘You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a “substantial” and “long-term” adverse effect on your ability “to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.’ But the difficulties of categorisation are implicit in the long list of conditions in the Act. As Vic Finkelstein, a disability-rights activist who developed the social model of disability for the Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS), put it in 2001: ‘What was paramount was our focus on the need to change the disabling society rather than make us fit for society.’ Pointedly, it distinguishes between disability and impairment: the first imposed by society as a form of exclusion, the second characterised by physical limitations.


In many countries the physical environment is not designed to facilitate the spatial mobility and socio-economic independence of people with disabilities. For example, the underground metro system in London, UK, makes no allowance for disabled people, and that of Washington, DC, US, has had to be overhauled so that disabled people may use it.

Fears have reportedly grown among Germany's 5 million disabled that neo-nazi extremists who have killed 17 foreigners since 1990 could next target them; some people in wheelchairs say they have been spat at in the streets by young thugs. A 1993 study found more than 40 attacks against physically and mentally handicapped people occurred in Germany within 2 months.

Web Page(s):
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Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Date of last update
27.11.2019 – 02:35 CET