Stigma on People with Disabilities


The Repercussion of Negative Perceptions toward People with Disabilities


Society, although becoming more considerate, are still showing signs of negativity—sometimes even antagonism—toward people with disabilities. Sadly these negative perceptions are not only inherent in the present society but in past societies as well, even ancient ones like the Greeks. Biased opinions against people with disabilities produce negative attitudes that can cause serious damages to their growth and advancement in society.

The collective negative perception alone is enough reason to the “outsider” status most people with disabilities feel. This bars them to participate in the opportunities ordinary people enjoy, therefore hindering their prospects for progress within the society. People who are forming those opinions may see this irrelevant, but those opinions make important things—education, transportation, communication, etc.—harder for disabled people.


Negative perceptions produce social stereotypes that are prejudiced against people with disabilities.

Every society stereotypes people by social class and economic status, to name a few. As it turns out, society has also stereotyped disabled people and has placed them at a constant disadvantage. When one looks through history and even cultural differences, various factors affect these negative perceptions—fear, misconception, and carelessness are just a few of the reasons people with disabilities always feel like outsiders in the very society in which they belong.


People with disabilities often experience awkwardness and discomfort in communicating with others.

As mentioned above, people have become more accommodating to people with disabilities. This, however, is not enough to make them feel a sense of belongingness. Communication, as you may know, have many forms such as verbal and nonverbal communication. Saying all the right things to a person with disability while evidently showing signs of discomfort gives that person the message that you still have a certain prejudice against him or her. These may be little things, but disabled people encounter them all the time. When piled up to the point that it has become unbearable, this can affect the disabled persons’ ability to express themselves and form decent communication to the people around them.


Negative perceptions toward people with disabilities spring from lack of understanding.

Prejudice may come with the way a person was raised—coming from the most basic unit of society. People judge persons with disabilities because they grew up believing these people that they judge are lacking, are liabilities. This research reveals that people have a hard time accepting a scenario where people with disabilities have direct authority over them. This is even true with the disabled people themselves. Aside from their disabilities, most even have to suffer the internalized shame they always carry with them.


No matter where you look at it, lack of understanding seems to be the most common reason why people with disabilities are being stigmatized. People need to be educated about negative perceptions and negative attitudes toward disabled people and how they can turn all this negativity into something constructive and supportive, where the people with disabilities can function without fear or shame.



Aiden, Hardeep and McCarthy, Andrea. 2014. “Current attitudes towards disabled people.” Scope. Accessed March 13, 2017.

Wa Munyi, Chomba. “Past and Present Perceptions Towards Disability: A Historical Perspective.” Disability Studies Quarterly. Accessed March 13, 2017.

National Disability Authority. “Attitudes.” Accessed March 13, 2017.


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by Rosalie H. Contino, PhD