Two in five disabled people say they hide their impairment to avoid awkwardness and negative attitudes from the public, a new report has found.
Research from disability charity Scope found that the trend is even more prevalent among younger people, with 66% of 18-34 year olds saying they conceal their disabilities.
The majority of disabled people (62%) said they feel they are treated differently because of their impairment, with the figure rising to 76% of disabled people aged between 18 and 24.
The survey also revealed that many people still feel awkward about interacting with disabled people.
Only about one in four Britons said they feel comfortable enough around disabled people not to worry about accidentally being offensive.
One anonymous respondent admitted that they avoided serving a regular disabled customer because they could not understand them.
Another person said they felt awkward when they asked a deaf colleague to answer the phone.
Scope is launching a television advert during the Paralympics aimed at offering people advice on how to avoid awkwardness using the mnemonic HIDE:
- H: Say 'Hi'
- I: Introduce yourself
- D: Don't panic
- E: End the Awkward
Mark Atkinson, chief executive of Scope, said: "Despite the popularity of the Paralympic Games, we know from our research that the majority of people feel uncomfortable talking about disability, and feel uneasy around disabled people as a result.
"By approaching this serious issue in a light-hearted way, we hope people will feel they can share the campaign with friends and address a topic they may normally try and avoid."