The number of disabled people in the UK is on the rise.
According to new Government data, there are now 13.9 million disabled people in the UK.
That means disabled people now make up 22% of the UK population – more than one in five.
And yet Scope’s research shows nearly half the population don’t know a disabled person.
Clearly, something isn’t adding up.
The reality is that vast numbers of disabled people continue to be excluded from many parts of society.
Employment is just one area where time and time again, disabled people are too often unfairly excluded.
There are a million disabled people in the UK who can and want to work, but continue to come up against employers’ poor attitudes and inaccessible working practices.
The Government has pledged to get a million more disabled people into work, but we need to see swift action leading to genuine change in the workplace.
Failure to make changes will result in a scandalous waste of talent, not only damaging the UK economy but also stopping disabled people from realising their ambitions.
There is also a woeful lack of diversity on our screens, and this includes disabled people.
Eight in 10 disabled people say they do not feel well represented in the media.
If our screens reflected reality, one in every five people appearing on them would be disabled.
While some progress has been made, we need to see far more disabled people in front of and behind the camera. The industry needs to make this happen.
Even the way our society is set up means millions of people are excluded from being a part of it.
Access issues and outdated attitudes mean disabled people and their families are often shut out from activities many people take for granted, such as visiting a restaurant, popping to the shops or hopping on a bus.
This is bad for the economy, with businesses missing out on the £250billion annual spending power of disabled people and their families.
These problems are easy to fix. Staff can be trained and buildings can be adapted. We don’t need to live in a society where nearly a quarter of the population is shut out of everyday life.
Everyday equality is achievable, but the voices of 14million disabled people must no longer be ignored.
If we work together, we can build a society that works for all.