Friday, July 1 marked the beginning of Disability Pride Month.
The designation was first established by former New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio in 2015 in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by ensuring rights in employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunication was signed into law on July 26, 1990 by former President George H.W. Bush.
The ADA had life-changing ramifications for individuals with disabilities, but more change is needed.
During Disability Pride Month, activists suggest disability allies learn about ways they can support the disability community. Here are some of their suggestions:
1. Walk in a Disability Pride Parade
In 1990, the first Disability Pride Parade was held in Boston. Today, Disability Pride parades take place in communities all across the nation. Support your disabled friends and family members by joining them for parade activities. The Disability Pride Parade Association in Chicago is holding its annual parade on July 23rd. (The New York City parade, originally scheduled for July 10th has been postponed until the fall due to COVID.)
2. Educate yourself about ableism
According to AccessLiving.org, ableism is defined as: “The discrimination of and social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior. At its heart, ableism is rooted in the assumption that disabled people require ‘fixing’ and defines people by their disability.” Sometimes even those who mean well have ablest attitudes. To learn more about ableism, visit Access Living.
3. Stand up for inclusion
If you are a member of a religious, civic, arts or business organization, make sure that their services, meetings, performances and conferences are inclusive. This means that event spaces should be wheelchair accessible; sign language interpreters are present; assistive listening devices are provided; and disability accommodations are clearly explained on websites and in all marketing materials.
4. Read books by disabled authors and journalists
The best way to learn about issues of concern to people with disabilities is to read about their experiences. Check out this list of books by thecatchpoles.net.
5. Be aware of your language
Avoid offensive language about disabled people. Phrases such as “wheelchair bound,” or “suffering from” frame disability in a negative and frightening light. Similarly, descriptors such as “crazy,” “dumb,” “lame,” or “idiot” are all insulting and disrespectful.
For some time, there has been disagreement about whether it is preferable to use “people-first language” i.e. “people with disabilities” or disability-first language i.e. “disabled people.” The ADA National Network has a guide to disability language but when in doubt, ask individuals what they prefer.
6. Follow disability blogs and publications
In addition to Enabling Devices’ blog, keep up with blogs and publications such as Disability Scoop, Assistive Technology, Disabled World, MobilityWorks and New Mobility Magazine.
7. Hire individuals with disabilities
As Enabling Devices has reported, hiring disabled workers isn’t just a moral imperative. It’s also good business. Disability Pride Month is a great time to “raise awareness, educate your employees about the disabled community, and create an inclusive environment for employees with disabilities,” says Emtrain.com. For additional workplace inclusion suggestions, click here.
8. Take Disability San Antonio’s Disability Friendly pledge
Among other things, pledge signers promise to be accepting of difference; aware of the existence of invisible disabilities; and to become knowledgeable about disability issues. Visit disabilitysa.org/take-the-pledge.