Sunday, July 17, 2022

July is Disability Pride Month

Picture of Disability Pride Flag
Disability Pride Flag

by Virtual Ability member Gentle Heron

Who are the disabled?

People with disabilities form the largest and most diverse minority group on the planet. We are a naturally occurring part of overall human diversity. We are not adequately defined by dominant society’s often negative attitudes and feelings about us, nor do we deserve to be stigmatized as bad, wrong, or in need of repair.

Being disabled is the only minority group that it is simple to temporarily or permanently join by stepping clumsily off a curb or being in a traffic accident. Most individuals develop one or more disabilities as they age. If you’re not part of our community already, you are likely to join us in the future.

You can be a proud member of a variety of minority groups. Perhaps you are a queer First Nations woman wearing a right arm prosthesis who prefers mango sorbet over both chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Or maybe you are a Latino transman who crochets and has Type 2 diabetes. Whoever we are, we can have pride in ourselves.

Tarik Williams is a member of several minority groups. He is a tall, fit, Trinidadian African American man who is a weightlifter and a creative writer. He is also blind. His pride, his self- esteem, encourages him to embody the phrase “Me equals We.” Read his story here:

What is Disability Pride?

We can be proud that we, as a whole inclusive of all types of disabilities, make up about 15% of the world’s total population. We can be proud of our contributions to our families and to our local and broader communities. We can be proud of our individual identities. This special month puts us all in the spotlight.

The mission of Chicago’s Disability Pride Parade clearly expresses the purpose of Disability Pride Month:

  • “To change the way people think about and define “disability”;
  • To break down and end the internalized shame among people with Disabilities; and
  • To promote the belief in society that Disability is a natural and beautiful part of human diversity in which people living with Disabilities can take pride.”

Why was July chosen as Disability Pride Month?

July 26 marks the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by then-President George H. W. Bush in 1990. Tireless advocacy by Justin Dart, Ed Roberts and numerous others led to this historic achievement. The first Disability Pride Day occurred in Boston in 1990, and they are now held around the world.

Color photo of President George H.W. Bush signing the Americans with Disabilities Act
President George H.W. Bush signing the
Americans with Disabilities Act

Black and white photo of Ed Roberts, disability civil rights advocate, protesting for civil rights
Ed Roberts, civil rights advocate

But we still have a long way to go to create the most accessible possible world. People with disabilities have lots of abilities. We just need the proper tools and environment to be able to use our abilities to their fullest.

That’s the main purpose of this Pride Month: To encourage public awareness, the first step toward achieving full accessibility. Education of the remaining 85% of the world’s population about the needs and achievements of our 15% is a positive action. 

What are some good ways to celebrate this special month?

The Virtual Ability community encourages everyone, disabled or temporarily able-bodied/minded, to learn more about disability rights and accessibility tools during the month of July. A good place to start is to take the pledge to become disability friendly.

You will find numerous additional ideas of disability-supportive actions you might take this month and in the future in the following list.

Some great accessibility resources:

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