Attitudes of the Public in India towards People with Intellectual Disabilities

Here is a study about the awareness of intellectual disability in India:

Attitudes of the Public in India towards People with Intellectual Disabilities


Gary N. Siperstein, Ph. D.

Keerthi Sugumaran

Jennifer Norins Bardon

Robin C. Parker, M.S.

University of Massachusetts Boston


(…) Presently, most individuals with ID in India have not been formally identified and even among those who have been identified, the majority are excluded by the rest of society. As a result, individuals with ID are not afforded the same opportunities as people without disabilities. To fully understand the challenges that individuals with ID are facing within the Indian society, there first needs to be some understanding that these barriers are primarily rooted in religious beliefs, cultural norms, and misinformation or a lack of information regarding disabilities in general. (…)

(…) There are a number of important and relevant findings from this study, all of which have valuable implications for Special Olympics Bharat. The first, is that over 50% of the respondents, representing the urban middle class in India, are aware of SO with 17% having been involved with SO, either as a volunteer or knowing an athlete. We believe that this awareness has grown in conjunction with the rapid expansion Special Olympics has undergone in the last two years in India. Furthermore, more than 70% of those surveyed have had contact with people with ID. These findings are important as they suggest that the public has had substantial exposure to individuals with ID in their everyday surroundings.

However, as it has been noted, the public seems to underestimate the capabilities of people with ID. The results from the survey showed that almost half the population does not believe that individuals with ID are capable of engaging in simple tasks, including self help skills, or more complex living skills. Further, very few believed that individuals with ID are capable of playing sports on teams with people with or without ID. Because the public underestimates what people with ID can do, the assumption can be made that the exposure has been primarily with people with moderate to severe impairment. It is also possible that that public’s underestimation is the result of the strongly held stereo type that exists among the Indian public that individuals with ID are less capable than their non-disabled peers (Ghai, 2002).  Read more.