Negative attitudes, or perceived negative attitudes, towards people with disabilities can become a barrier to the inclusion of people with disabilities, and to achieving their full potential.

The National Disability Authority has conducted a series of surveys at regular intervals on public attitudes towards people with disabilities (2001, 2006 and 2011). Public attitudes improved between 2001 and 2006, with some retreat in 2011 (except with respect to people with mental health difficulties which remained stable between 2006 and 2011). We have also co-funded surveys on public attitudes to mental health conduced by See Change.

The National Disability Survey 2006 explored how people with disabilities experienced negative attitudes to them. A majority did not find that negative attitudes prevented them doing what they would want, however, younger people and those with mental health difficulties, intellectual or learning disabilities were more likely to report it as a problem.