You probably already know that June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month - but did you know that in July, we celebrate Disability Pride? While this month hasn’t yet been recognized by the federal government, cities throughout the country celebrate the passage of a significant law: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
On July 26, 1990, the ADA was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. This landmark law prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities — and was the result of a long battle fought by disability activists. In 2015, New York City declared July to be Disability Pride Month in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the ADA. Today, Disability Pride is celebrated by communities worldwide.
According to America’s Disability Community, July represents an opportunity to honor each person’s uniqueness as “a natural and beautiful part of human diversity.” Disability Pride Month is a way for communities to promote visibility and awareness of people with disabilities. It can also mean challenging negative stereotypes about people with disabilities, including the notion that people with disabilities are not valuable or equal members of our society.
If you are interested in participating meaningfully in Disability Pride Month as an ally, there are a number of things that you can do — starting with listening to people with disabilities. You can also:
Learn about ableism, or discrimination against people with disabilities based on the belief that having typical abilities is better. Ableism can take many forms, from choosing an inaccessible venue for a meeting to talking to a person with a disability like they are a child.
Understand that many disabilities are “invisible,” and that you cannot tell if someone is disabled simply by looking at them.
Educate yourself about accessibility, and why it matters. If you have an online presence — or your employer does — take steps to make it accessible through steps like adding image descriptions to graphics or closed captioning to videos.
Advocate for a change in the law so that people with disabilities can get married or live with their partners without losing access to disability benefits (which are often income-based).
Learn wheelchair etiquette, like not touching or pushing a person’s wheelchair without their permission.
Reconsider the language that you use, and avoid words that communicate an insult based on a disability (such as saying, “that’s so lame,” or “that person is psycho.”)
If you are in a position to do so, hire and promote people with disabilities, and/or purchase goods and services from businesses run by people with disabilities.
Speak up. One of the most important ways to be an ally is to say something when you see or hear an injustice. This can be as simple as saying something when a person makes an ableist comment, or asking event organizers to move an event to an accessible space.
At Blackburn Center, we offer services to victims and survivors of all types of violence, abuse, and crime — and strive to ensure that our services are accessible to everyone. If you need help, we are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-832-2272 (TDD available). All calls to our hotline are free of charge and can be anonymous.