The 2023 Survey of Public Perceptions of the Disabled - Supplement

News & SocietyNews

  • Author Robin Akins
  • Published January 16, 2024
  • Word count 1,046

"No one cares about disabled people because people aren't educated enough about us." Sounds harsh. However, it's just one of many answers from our 2023 disability survey that gives insight into the present state of things.

There are 42.5 million Americans with disabilities. However, disabled citizens still face prejudice and discrimination. Understanding this, we talked to people with various types of disabilities, those without disabilities, and people with children with disabilities.

Like past surveys, we wanted to understand public perceptions. By understanding these perceptions, we can be proponents of disability advocacy. Keep reading to learn more about what we found out.

Discrimination Against the Disabled

Discrimination against individuals with disabilities remains a significant issue in today's society. Despite efforts to promote inclusivity and equal opportunities, many people with disabilities continue to face unfair treatment and prejudice.

Wanting to understand more about this, we explored how much disability discrimination had been seen or experienced in the past two years.

Participants answered the following:

A great deal: 20.82%

A lot: 14.29%

A moderate amount: 23.73%

A little: 23.49%

None at all: 20.82%

These numbers are enough to tell us that discrimination against the disabled is still prevalent. However, the numbers get even more interesting when you explore answers from participants with disabilities vs. participants without disabilities.

For example, 30.81% of people with disabilities report seeing a great deal of discrimination. In contrast, only 5.78% of people without disabilities report seeing a great deal.

The same trend continues throughout the rest of the categories. This is a clear sign of significant differences in the experience of the disabled versus the non-disabled.

Do Prejudices Still Exist Against the Disabled?

Do prejudices still exist against people with disabilities? This is a question that continues to linger in our society. Despite progress in raising awareness and promoting inclusivity, disability stereotypes and prejudices remain an unfortunate reality for many.

In some cases, these prejudices stem from deep-rooted misconceptions and ignorance. One of the biggest challenges is that these implicit biases are hard to change without awareness and education.

The media plays a significant role in perpetuating stereotypes and biases against the disabled. Portrayals of disability tend to focus on limitations rather than showcasing their strengths and achievements. These negative representations contribute to reinforcing societal prejudices, making it harder for disabled individuals to break free from preconceived notions.

So, do people still believe that prejudices exist against the disabled? Yes. Let's explore the numbers:

Yes, the vast majority of people have prejudices against the disabled: 32.69%

46.92% Disabled

13.87% Non-Disabled

Yes, but very few people have prejudices against the disabled: 18.89%

18.96% Disabled

19.08% Non-Disabled

Yes, but it varies with the education level of the people judging the disabled: 29.06%

32.23% Disabled

26.01% Non-Disabled

No, I believe people no longer have prejudices against the disabled: 6.78%

3.79% Disabled

10.98% Non-Disabled

This doesn't reflect all the categories available. Still, it shows enough information that you can see that there's a discrepancy again in the views of people with disabilities vs. those without disabilities.

What Ways Are Discrimination and Prejudices Frequently Seen Against the Disabled?

Throughout the years, discrimination against disabled individuals has persisted in various forms. From physical barriers restricting accessibility to societal stigmas that perpetuate stereotypes, these prejudices hinder progress toward a more inclusive society.

Our survey explored the following:

Direct verbal confrontation or harassment of a disabled individual

Not acknowledging the presence of a disabled individual

Inappropriate gestures toward the disabled individual

Laughing or making fun of an individual's disability

Avoiding face contact with a disabled individual

Not hiring a disabled individual, even when qualified

Not promoting a disabled individual even when best qualified

Not inviting a disabled individual to a group activity

Being condescending to a disabled individual

Not recognizing the abilities of a disabled individual

Failing to develop activities with accommodations for disabled individuals

Expressing disgust or shock to a disabled individual's disability

We continued to see higher numbers for individuals with disabilities versus those without.

Are There Enough Services in Place to Eliminate Prejudices and Discrimination?

Progress has undoubtedly been made in recent years, but more needs to be done. It is essential to acknowledge the efforts that have already been made.

Organizations and advocacy groups have worked tirelessly to raise awareness about disability rights and promote inclusivity. Government initiatives have also played a role in implementing policies to protect the rights of disabled individuals.

However, despite these efforts, prejudices and discrimination persist. This can easily lead to social isolation without the proper services in place.

What Problems Exist in Serving the Disabled?

While progress has been made toward creating more inclusive environments for people with disabilities, several challenges persist. These challenges hinder their full participation and equal treatment.

We looked at the problems that exist:

Organizations and the public do not realize the vast number of differences and needs among the disabled: 54.24%

Organizations and the public disregard the emotional needs of the disabled: 43.83%

Organizations and the public tend to focus too greatly on an individual's disability rather than their abilities: 48.91%

Organizations and the public tend to devalue the worth of a disabled individual because of their disability: 46%

Organizations and the public are poorly informed of the needs and abilities of the disabled: 44.07%

There is an insufficient number of disabled role models in organizations due to a reluctance to place qualified disabled individuals in prominent positions: 36.08%

What Services Should Be Offered or Improved?

Society as a whole must continue to work towards eliminating barriers and creating a more equitable and inclusive environment for people with disabilities.

We asked participants to tell us in their own words what needs improving or to be offered. The answers give a lot of insight. They show us that individuals with disabilities want access to the same resources that those without disability take for granted.

Some answers included:


Better access to public transit

Employment accommodations

Wider aisles in stores


Education for medical professionals about disability

2023 Disability Survey

Discrimination against individuals with disabilities has been a long-standing issue in society. While progress has been made over the years, it is clear that prejudices still exist. The 2023 disability survey sheds light on current affairs and highlights areas where improvements are needed.

At Cogentica, we believe that knowledge is power. With that in mind, we provide research that can empower our community to make changes. Join our mailing list today and receive insights directly to your mailbox.

Robin Akins is the founder of Cogentica, LLC, a disability advocacy and information site founded in 2015. Dr. Akins is a quantitative psychologist with over 40 years of experience in business, government, and education with substantial teaching experience at the college level. He received his doctorate at Temple University in 1992.

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