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Perceptions of disability shift after London Olympics

Millions have been inspired by the London Olympic and Paralympic Games and the success of household-name gold medalists is giving hope to those who afflicted by physical and mental disabilities worldwide. This year the Paralympics reported unprecedented crowds, attracting two-and-a-half million viewers and has been described as an event that shifted perceptions of disability.

For those who suffer disabilities in California and nationwide, even daily tasks and chores can be a huge struggle. Many disabled persons need care or are unable to work. This year, the Paralympics has changed the way we view disability at home, at work and around the world. According to observers and advocates, the athletes were professional, elite and demonstrated a different kind of status for those with disabilities.

The British organizing committee had set a goal to focus on creating awareness and it proved a success. According to disability advocates, the British rallied around the Paralympics in a way that no country has before. New polls suggest that 8 out of 10 British adults thought that the 2012 Paralympic coverage had a positive impact on how those with disabilities are viewed worldwide.

Many have observed that the 2012 Paralympics focused on ability rather than disability. The event was not merely inspirational, but an actual sport with legitimate talent, dedication, and athletic ability. For those who suffer disabilities, the London Paralympics could open up new opportunities and help shape perceptions of those with disabilities in the United States and abroad.

Source: CNN, "London 2012 delivers unexpected legacy," Piers Edwards, Sept. 11, 2012

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