July is Disability Pride Month. It’s a time to honor the history, accomplishments, struggles and humanity of the more than 1 billion people with disabilities around the globe. As such, it’s the perfect time to review the history of the disability pride movement and consider meaningful ways to celebrate.
On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The historic law prohibited discrimination against disabled Americans in all areas of public life. Unfortunately, despite the landmark decision, discrimination still exists. Disability Pride Month helps bring attention to the misconceptions and obstacles that disabled people continue to face and encourages their complete inclusion in our societies.
In October 1990, the city of Boston held the first Disability Pride parade. It was a great success, but it took a while for the rest of the country to catch on. In 2004, Chicago held its first Disability Pride parade and other cities including Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Buffalo eventually followed its example. Nowadays Disability Pride Month is celebrated in cities and towns across the United States and in some places overseas.
In 2015, then New York Mayor Bill de Blasio proclaimed July Disability Pride Month in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the ADA.
Whether you are a person with a disability or an ally of the disability community, you can participate in a variety of activities that highlight issues of concern to members of the disabled community. Here are some opportunities for Disability Pride Month observance:
1. Take part in a Disability Pride parade!
Disability Pride parades are held in many locations during the month of July. Some well-known parades are held in Missouri, Illinois and Pennsylvania but nowadays you can find parades and other disability pride events all over the U.S. Check your local news publications or websites to find out if one is being held near you.
2. Attend a virtual Disability Pride parade!
If you aren’t able to attend a parade in person, attend Easterseals’ virtual parade on Jan. 26. For more info, visit the Easterseals’ website.
3. Read about the history of disability rights
There are plenty of excellent books that teach about the fight for disability rights and inclusion. To find suggestions of books on disability, check out this list by USA Today or this one by the New York Public Library.
5. Check out a disability history website
UC Berkeley’s website on the Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement is a good place to start. Another informative website with ideas on celebrating Disability Pride Month is the Arc’s.
6. Tell your disability story on social media
Share your experiences and encourage others to observe Disability Pride Month on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or TikTok using hashtags #DisabilityPride and #DisabilityPrideMonth.
7. Reach out to elective officials
Write or call elected officials to demand policies that support the rights of disabled people. The Arc’s Action Circle provides alerts about the latest disability issues and policies.
8. Donate to disability rights organizations
Providing funding for organizations that support the rights of disabled individuals is one of the best ways to celebrate Disability Pride. Check out Stanford University’s Office for Accessible Education website for suggestions of organizations that need your donations.