Our Michigan readers may or may not have paid attention to this year's Paralympic Games in London, which immediately followed the Olympic Games. For those unfamiliar with the Paralympic Games, athletes with a wide range of physical and mental disabilities are given the opportunity to compete in events with one another.
Those who did may have noticed the enormous turnout for the events. In fact, this year attracted an unprecedented number of people, with around 2.5 million tickets sold. One of the great things about the increase exposure of the Paralympic Games is that, instead of focusing on the disability of the athletes, there ends up being a very refreshing focus on their abilities.
Societal perceptions about disability have apparently been impacted, and for the better, by the Paralympic Games. According to polls conducted during the London games, eight out of 10 British adults thought the 2012 Paralympic Games had a positive impact on the way disabled people are perceived by the public. That is certain a positive thing
Misperceptions of people with disabilities can make an already difficult situation more difficult, particular when it comes to employment. Even though federal law prohibits discrimination against employees and applicants, those with disabilities still struggle with higher unemployment rates than the rest of the population.
For disabled persons who have trouble finding or maintaining a steady job, fulfilling financial obligations can be a real challenge. Programs like Social Security Disability can provide much needed support to those who need it.
Source: CNN, "London 2012 delivers unexpected legacy," Piers Edwards, September 11, 2012