Is the Awkward Ending?

New research by Opinium on behalf of Scope found two in five (38%) disabled people feel the need to disguise their disability as a result of stigma and negativity.

This rises in young disabled people. A staggering two thirds (66%) of 18- 34 year olds are more likely to conceal their impairment.

The majority of disabled people (62%) feel they are treated differently because of their impairment and this increases to a shocking 76% of disabled people aged between 18 and 24.

These new findings are released to mark the third year of Scope’s End the Awkward campaign, which aims to challenge attitudes to disability and highlights that the majority of the British public still feel awkward around disabled people.

And it’s not just disabled people the charity has been polling. Scope polled over 2000 members of the general public to find out how awkward our nation really is.

The anonymous survey led to some very revealing stories:

  • One person said they avoided serving a regular disabled customer because they couldn’t understand them.
  • Another person felt awkward when they asked a deaf colleague to answer the phone.


This is backed up by new research revealing people are so awkward around disabled people they actively avoid them:

  • Over a third (34%) of Brits said they avoid disabled people over fears of being patronising or saying the wrong thing in their company.
  • Only a quarter (23%) of us felt comfortable enough around disabled people to stop worrying about using potentially inappropriate language, or accidently being offensive.

With so many people going out of their way to avoid interacting with disabled people, Scope is using humour to shine a light on how uncomfortable the nation can be, and launched a thought-provoking TV advert during the Paralympics.

The tongue in cheek prime-time advert on Channel 4 will features the much-loved voice of actor Simon Callow and offers advice on how to End the Awkward in the form of a mnemonic – H.I.D.E

H…Say ‘Hi’
Introduce yourself
Don’t panic
End the Awkward

Mark Atkinson chief executive at disability charity Scope, said: “End the Awkward is about shining a light on the awkwardness many people feel around disability in a refreshing, open and honest way.

“Despite the popularity of the Paralympic Games, we know from our research that majority of people feel uncomfortable talking about disability, and feel uneasy around disabled people as a result.

“Our new findings show the damaging impact this has on disabled people.

“We know almost half the British public don’t know a disabled person. Many also said getting to know a disabled person would help eliminate unease.

“By approaching this serious issue in a light-hearted way we hope people will feel they can share the campaign with friends and address a topic they may normally try and avoid.”

By Scope

Thought from the Editor: Some of those figures are really fascinating, particularly “Over a third (34%) of Brits said they avoid disabled people.” Although that might sound awful, and it is, it also shows that events like the Paralympics, campaigns like End the Awkward, and all sort of other endeavours are working. In 2011, BT conducted a similar piece of research and found that “65% of people have admitted that they avoid disabled people.” That means that though there is still so much awks, we’ve halved it in just 5 years, and that’s awesome.

Had a #awkward moment lately? Or a weirdly awks-free experience? Share it with our community on Facebook, tweet us @duniteduk, or email our Editor on


Back to top button