The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law 32 years ago, on July 26, 1990. That date marked decades of activism by the disability community for equal treatment. In commemoration of the historic act, July marks Disability Pride Month for people with disabilities in the United States.
What is Disability Pride?
Eli Clare describes pride in disability as a call to action, something that “is not particularly about people, fame, or being a celebrity, but about community struggle, rebellion, and joy” (2010). Disabled World defines pride in disability as “accepting and honoring the uniqueness of each person and seeing it as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity… an integral part of movement building and a direct challenge to systemic abilityism and stigmatizing definitions of disability” (2015). Regardless of which definition you prefer, pride in disability highlights the differences among the human race, not as minor, but as equal. Disability pride highlights people who see their disability as an inherent part of their identity, as part of what makes an individual an individual.
A diagnosis of disability can give rise to mixed feelings. Disability Pride questions why our society views disability as inherently negative and highlights the triumphs of the disability community.
The legal history of the ADA
The social conditions that allowed the ADA to be signed are the result of the work of thousands of advocates over several decades. From a legal perspective, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 marked a change in public policy. This section prohibits disability discrimination in organizations that received federal funds. Finally, the federal government recognized disability discrimination, modeling Section 504 on other laws that discriminate on the basis of race, sex, and ethnicity. Disabled people were seen as a marginalized group instead of separating people into groups based on diagnosis. This legislation, as well as ongoing activism, helped pave the way for the ADA (Mayerson, 1992).
Disability Pride Parades
Disability Pride Parades are held by the disability community to celebrate the community, the culture behind disability, and to educate participants on disability-related issues. The first parade was held in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1990. The parade continued in 1991 and stopped after the death of its founder, Diana Viets (Ping-Wild, 2021). Disability Pride parades have appeared in several cities across the country, including Chicago, Los Angeles, San Antonio, and New York City (American Autism Association, 2021). New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio also declared July as Disability Pride Month in the city (Ping-Wild, 2021).
Tips for celebrating Disability Pride Month
There are a variety of ways to celebrate Disability Pride Month over the next few weeks. If you can, please consider donating to a disability advocacy organization to support ongoing efforts to combat ableism and discrimination that are still present in our society. There are also content creators who provide free or low-cost content to educate their audience on disability-related topics. Also, look for disability pride events in your area or online to further celebrate disability pride. Finally, while many people are anxious to “get back to normal” after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, consider ways you can minimize risks to disabled and immunocompromised people you may come into contact with. Many people with disabilities have emphasized that living with COVID is not an option for them and that many of the accommodations in the early days of the pandemic are no longer available (such as attending classes or working virtually (Charlton-Dailey, 2022).
Disability Pride Month is a wonderful opportunity to meet and celebrate the vibrant disability community. The fight for equal treatment of people with disabilities is far from over. But this month, the community celebrates what it has accomplished.
~ niki williams is a Psychology I/O graduate student and GothamCulture intern, disability issues are her area of interest and she wrote another article on this topic”Why companies need to talk about disability and accessibility.”
American Autism Association. (2021). Celebrating Disability Pride Month—American Autism association. https://www.myautism.org/news-features/celebrating-disability-pride-month
Charlton-Dailey, R. (2022, Jan 14). Op-ed: Disabled people cannot learn to live with COVID. Very good Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/disabled-people-cant-learn-to-live-with-covid-5215746
Clara, E. (2010). Disability Pride. Retrieved from http://eliclare.com/disability/disability-pride
disabled world. (2015, July 3). Disability Pride: Definition and Awareness Information. disabled world. Retrieved April 22, 2022 from www.disabled-world.com/definitions/disability-pride.php
Mayerson, A. (1992). The ADA story. Fund for Education and Defense of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. https://dredb.org/about-us/publications/the-history-of-the-ada/
Ping-Wild, J. (2021). Everything you need to know about Disability Pride Month in 2021. The rolling explorer. https://therollingexplorer.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-disability-pride-month-in-2020/
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