29/08/2012 06:15 BST | Updated 29/08/2012 19:50 BST

Paralympics 2012 Could Improve Public Attitudes To Disability, Scope Research Shows

The Paralympics are a "once in a lifetime" chance to improve the public's attitudes towards disability, according to a survey by the charity Scope.

They found six out of 10 disabled people believe the sold-out event will change society's attitude toward disability for the better, following an increase of hate crimes against disabled people.

Disability activist and writer of the Diary of a Benefit Scrounger blog Sue Marsh told The Huffington Post UK she hoped it would lead to a "softening of attitudes."

"I think there's been so much negativity about disabled people recently - but for the next two weeks Britain is going to be all about disability and that's a fantastic thing. It will change opinions, and hopefully lead to a softening of attitudes."

The survey comes after charities warned the government's focus on disability benefits had led to an increase of abuse of disabled people in the wake of anti-disabled hate crime reaching a record high.

French company and Paralympic sponsors Atos, who carry out work capability assessments has been criticised by disabled groups.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) plan to deliver a coffin full of messages from disabled people at the company's headquarters on Wednesday as a protest against Atos' "hypocrisy".

According to The Independent, more than 40 medical practitioners working for the company have been reported to regulators the General Medical Council.

Marsh, who campaigned against the coalition's cuts to disability benefits told The Huffington Post UK: "I do think it's really important to say that a lot of these Paralympians will have had Disability Living Allowance or extra state help.

"Politicians capitalising on Paralympian heroes would really stick in the throat. It would be so annoying if they turned around now and said 'aren't we great.'"

The study also showed that 67% of the general public will watch the Games. The figure was 48% when a similar poll was conducted before the Olympics.

Disabled people and their families said greater visibility was key to improving attitudes.

Three-in-four (76%) believe a greater presence in day-to-day life would make a difference, while 87% claimed more disabled people in the media would have a positive effect on perspectives.

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of Scope, said: "At a time when disabled people feel public attitudes have got worse, it is clear that they have high expectations for the Games. Disabled people say they can change attitudes for the better.

"But for the Games to have an impact the general public has to engage.

"We were really pleased to discover that more than two-thirds are going to watch the Paralympics. This comes as the Games look set to be the first sell-out Paralympics."

He added: "A step-change in the way society views disability must be the real and lasting legacy of London 2012 for disabled people."

Over 2,000 disabled and non-disabled adults were surveyed for the research.

On Wednesday morning the torch will grace the six host boroughs, visiting landmarks including the Abbey Road crossing made famous by the Beatles, Lord's Cricket Ground and London Zoo.

The Games are on course to be the first Paralympics to sell out, with more than 2.4 million tickets sold already - half a million of those to overseas visitors. Ten thousand tickets will be available each day during the event.

Jeremy Hunt said on Monday: "For many Brits this will be the first time they have seen the Paralympic Games at all. It will be a very big moment to really change perceptions and that will be something to be proud of."