They were running a "Have Your Say" comments on it and I idly posted wondering if they had taken disabled and elderly respondents into account who couldn't walk well in the first place.
My reason for asking is quite simple. Since becoming a wheelchair user and, more recently, mostly housebound, I have been very amused at how much I can skew polls, surveys and things such as character tests.
The most recent example was the "Great British Class Test" which tried telling me I wasn't cultured. As someone educated to PhD level who listens to classical music, is an avid reader and watches things like history documentaries and theatre, this was somewhat baffling. It eventually turned out to be because I never left the house. If you took into account things I WOULD do if I physically could (and in fact things I was doing until just a few years ago) the results were very different indeed. I tweeted about this and it was picked up and discussed in a BBC Ouch! article.
Going back to the "25% of adults walk less than an hour a week", if I had been phoned up for the survey and agreed to take part, I would imagine it would go something like this:
Are you over 18?I very much doubt there was a question like "Do you consider yourself disabled?", which in any case wouldn't help as it wouldn't necessarily affect walking. "Are you able to walk?" wouldn't be any better as some people are able to walk but only stupidly short distances. They understandably won't be walking for miles each week!
In any given week would you say you walked over 7 hours a week, 4-7 hours, 1-4 hours, or less than an hour?
Well, less than an hour, but...
That's great, thank you for your time
Yes but, that doesn't really count you see because...
Given that there are 2.55 million blue badge holders in England alone (roughly 5% of the population), not taking mobility difficulties into account could make a difference to the results. Even people who aren't disabled enough to hold blue badges might still have significant difficulties.
Disabled and elderly people make up a significant proportion of the population. Yet when these polls and surveys are made we are blatantly often forgotten about. Questions are often irrelevant and there is no "not applicable" option. I often take the results with a pinch of salt as a result.
This isn't so much a problem when I'm taking a test for fun, but it *could* be an issue when survey results are used to decide government policy, issue health guidelines or perhaps make business decisions in private companies.
I was highly amused though to see that my comment was lambasted by other readers. It got a high number of negative votes.
I was less amused to see that another reader who agreed with my comment and explained that their pain and wheelchair use meant that they didn't walk also got negative votes. What kind of person does that?
So why was my comment disliked so much? I'm not really sure.
Was it precisely because people felt that as a disabled person who couldn't walk I WAS irrelevant and shouldn't be commenting?
Was it because people (probably wrongly in my experience) thought the poll creators would have thought of this?
Was it because people were having so much fun being holier than thou and telling everyone how much they walked and therefore how better they were than most of the population that they didn't want any comment that might cast doubt on it?
So two points.
- All you poll and survey creators out there: we disabled and elderly people do exist. Remember that, otherwise your results WILL be skewed.
- Disabled people are allowed to comment on topics concerning activities they can't partake in. Disability is a valid reason for not walking an hour a week. Marking down a comment saying so is a sad comment in itself on the BBC readership.