Mencap has been at the forefront of significant social change and achieved a great deal, but there is still more we can do to change people’s attitudes.
Asylums, institutions and long-stay hospitals are gone. Many offensive and outdated terms are no longer used. And people with a learning disability have more control over how to live their lives than ever before.
But people with a learning disability are still not fully integrated into our society as equal citizens.
Many people with a learning disability remain cut off from their local communities. They are still denied basic human rights, like equal healthcare and job opportunities. Negative and offensive terms are still used about them every day.
Until we, and our government, make simple adjustments to support people with a learning disability to take an active role in their communities, they will remain on the periphery of society, isolated and excluded.
Mencap’s greatest challenge is to change public attitudes and raise awareness. Greater awareness will prompt improved understanding. Improved understanding will encourage positive attitudes. And positive attitudes will bring about more opportunities for people with a learning disability to live their lives as equal citizens.
We’ve come such a long way and achieved so much, but we can still go so much further and do so much more.
Read more about how attitudes to people with a learning disability have changed in ‘Changing attitudes’(pdf).