Film transforms French disability attitudes

French blockbuster ‘The Intouchables’ has done more to raise awareness of disabilities in France than either the Paralympics or government funded campaigns, a new report says.

Some 34 percent of the business professionals asked in the survey, conducted by the French institute of public opinion, IFO, said the film has changed the way they think about disabled people.

‘The Intouchables’, about a quadriplegic man and his carer, was released a year ago and received critical acclaim worldwide.

The importance attributed to the film in changing attitudes was matched only by meeting a disabled person in real life, the survey showed. Some 34 percent said personal contact with a disabled person had changed their point of view.

This summer’s Paralympic Games had influenced 28 percent, while 26 percent said campaigns to raise awareness had made them alter their opinion.

Experience of impaired mobility affected 25 percent of the sample, and workplace awareness schemes had had an impact on 23 percent of those asked.

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French train inspector demands limbless man prove he’s disabled

French rail ticket inspectors are known for being sticklers when it comes to enforcing rules but asking a famous quadriplegic Frenchman to prove he merits a disabled travel discount is taking things to extremes.

French train inspector demands limbless man prove he's disabled
Photo: Philippe Croizon/Twitter

Philippe Croizon, a household name in France after achieving the remarkable feat of becoming the first quadruple-amputee athlete to swim the Channel, was travelling on the TER train between Rouen and Paris.

Having no arms or legs obviously meant Croizon qualified for reduced-cost travel on account of being severely disabled.

Nevertheless a ticket inspector on the service demanded Croizon show his “carte d'invalidité”, an ID card disabled people must carry to prove they are eligible for a discount.

Apparently the fact Croizon was in a wheelchair and clearly has no forearms and hands nor lower legs and feet, wasn't enough to convince the inspector.

A shocked Croizon tweeted out a picture of himself with the hashtag #triste (sad) and “touteestpossible (anything is possible) but remained calm during the exchange.

However passengers around him made their disgust known to the SNCF inspector, after which he reportedly dropped his demand to see Croizon's disability card and moved on down the carriage.

Croizon had been a steel worker by trade, until he was electrocuted in March 1994 while working at his house in Saint Remy-sur-Creuse in central France.

He was forced to have both arms and legs amputated in the aftermath of the horrific accident.

The quadriplegic even defended the inspector on Twitter saying “he could have been having a bad day or maybe he was tired.”

However French authorities have long been criticized for their attitude towards disabled people, especially when it comes to transport.

In 2015 a group supporting France's disabled community handed a “file of shame” to the French government as it emerged that thousands were forced into “exile” in Belgium where facilities and support are considered far better.


France's disabled forced into 'exile' in Belgium