26 Oct 2012

LIVE BLOG: A legacy to stand on? The debate

Did the Paralympics make any difference to the daily lives of disabled people – or in attitudes to disability? Join the debate with our live blog.

All week, Channel 4 News has been asking whether anything has changed for disabled people after this summer saw the nation embrace the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

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In our special series, A legacy to stand on, we’ve explored attitudes to disability, hate crime, transport and benefits in the post-Paralympic era. You can catch up on all the reports by clicking here.

We also want to know what you think. Join the debate on Twitter using the hashtag #c4legacy or go to our Facebook page. You can also comment at the bottom of this blog, or have a look below at your reactions to the story so far.

A legacy to stand on? The debate

Throughout the week, you’ve been sending us your stories – some positive, some negative. In the film below, Channel 4 News Reporter Katie Razzall looks at some of the main themes which have emerged and follows up on one of the messages we received – from a school in Kettering where pupils with learning disabilities are running a sweet shop.

A legacy to stand on? A week of special reports

On Monday, we tackled hate crime and sadly we’ve had lots of people get in touch since then to tell us about their experiences.

While many people emailed us about serious crimes, including having crutches kicked out from under them and being pushed into traffic whilst in a wheelchair, others said that the problem was the constant low-level abuse and harassment, which many did not report because they felt they would not be taken seriously.

Kaliya Franklin, a well-known disability rights campaigner who blogs at Benefit Scrounging Scum, wrote: “There was also the charming people who left comments on my youtube account calling for me to be gassed to death…I think that’s the kind of abuse that disabled people routinely experience and then are never sure whether to report or not.”

On Tuesday, we looked at air travel for disabled people. We’ve investigated this issue before via our No Go Britain series but this piece really seemed to strike a chord. And when our presenter Sophie Morgan was prevented from flying because of her disability a few days later it caused a bit of a storm on Twitter – her original tweet generating 4,000 retweets. For more on this story, including easyJet’s response, click here.

On Wednesday, Paralympics presenter Daraine Mulvihill investigated the reality of prosthetics – can everyone be like Oscar Pistorius? It seems not – but she cleared up a few other questions in a Twitter Q&A.

On Thursday, Sports Correspondent Keme Nzerem took a look at disability benefits. Our other reports have looked at the differences between Paralympians and other disabled people – but in this area, everyone is in the same boat.

To finish off the week of special reports, we looked at the positives for disabled people in Britain in 2012. While many are still facing major problems in their everyday lives, others feel that things are getting better.

Kevin French, who has cerebral palsy which affects his speech and body, emailed us to say: “Am I the only disabled person that feels at ease in Britain?”

He feels passionately that there is a positive legacy for disabled people in 2012. Kevin, who is an artist, model and actor – and the first disabled person to do a contemporary dance degree at Plymouth University – uses a wheelchair and has a carer. He uses a cardboard keyboard to communicate, once ran to be an MEP and has his own website – DisabledKevin.com.

In 1982, he was one of the first people to be awarded money by the Independent Living Fund.

(Click on the image below to see some of the stories we’ve been told on Facebook)

“After a year of going out alone, I was transferred from a handicapped youth to a confident severely disabled man, who, despite having a very bad speech problem, could cope in the ‘normal’ world and began to really love the independence and absolute freedom,” he wrote.

He described writing his email to us: “I started writing this in Costa Coffee. When I go, someone takes my money, I go sit on a table, then a cooled cappuccino and straw is brought and lastly, the person gets my head pointer and Blackberry tablet out, places the Blackberry on the table and my ‘hat’ on my head.”

He concluded: “Sorry to write a book but I feel despite the current political and economic negative effects on disability that I am concerned about too, there is a positive legacy that people should be aware of.”

By Jennifer Rigby