This month marks 32 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed.
Recognizing Disability Pride Month helps start conversations and raises awareness around how to be better allies and support people with disabilities.
[HINT: keep reading for some easy ways to be supportive and inclusive.]
A little history.
The ADA was passed on July 26, 1990, to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
1990 also marked the first Disability Pride parade, held in Boston. Celebrations have since expanded to many cities across borders – not just within a particular country- to show solidarity for people with disabilities.
Why do we celebrate?
Many disabled people are made to feel “less-than” because they require accommodations. But really, it’s a society that’s less than for not normalizing and standardizing the accommodations in the first place. If every building had access ramps, accessible signage, and adequate facilities, everyone would feel welcome and included from the outset. It’s society – and our lack of awareness – that is disabling.
Sadly, there’s still a long way to go for a change.
What can we do to help people with disabilities?
As a society, we should strive to create an accessible environment for people with disabilities. This includes providing ramps and elevators in public places, ensuring buildings are wheelchair accessible, and providing sign language interpreters at events. Additionally, we should make sure that people with disabilities have access to support and disability employment services (similar to DES Brisbane). Such initiatives can help them live a normal life like everyone else. Ultimately, we should aim to create an inclusive society, free from discrimination, where people with disabilities feel accepted and supported.
Let’s talk PRIDE.
The Disability Pride flag was designed by Ann Magill. The five colors represent the variety of needs and experiences:
- Mental Illness
- Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
- Invisible and Undiagnosed Disabilities
- Physical Disabilities, and
- Sensory Disabilities.
The design of the Disability Pride flag has been adapted from the original lightning bolt shape to a more linear shape, in order to help reduce the possibility of seizures. Since the Disability Pride flag is relatively new, it might be hard to find representative merchandise for it. If you can’t find any, what you could do instead is use rainbow pins and modify them into disability pride pins. It would also serve as a nice symbolic gesture presenting the confluence of the two.
How to be an ally.
There are many ways you can show support for people with disabilities during Disability Pride Month – and all year round. Here are 3 ways to get involved:
(1) Connect: Reach out to people in the disability community to learn more about them and their needs. You can also help create a safe space for people to share their thoughts and ideas on how to be more inclusive.
(2) Learn: Not everyone knows about Disability Pride Month – including many people in the disability community – so speak up. Explore the history, current celebratory plans, and even future opportunities to engage. It’s always good to encourage others to learn more too.
(3) Share: Elevate conversations from advocates, allies, and communities to show support. You can also discuss inclusive language, allyship, and training opportunities with colleagues and friends. The more we know, the more supportive we can be.
So get involved and share your disability pride today!