Have you heard about Disability Pride Month?

I hadn’t until last July, which was, coincidentally, The Rolling Explorer’s first-year anniversary month.

That’s right, I worked in the disability space for a FULL YEAR before learning about Disability Pride Month. More importantly, though, I spent 23 years of my life unaware of this massive celebration that has a history stemming all the way back to 1990.

Disability Pride was around before I was born, and yet I have been led to believe my whole life that I should be ashamed of myself and my body for being different.

NOT ANYMORE.

Since learning about Disability Pride Month, I have spent a lot of time here on my blog and over on my social media channels encouraging both disabled and non-disabled individuals to love themselves.

And, trust me, as the month goes on, you can expect to see PLENTY of self-love content.

But, for today, I want to give you some concrete information about Disability Pride Month.

So…

Today’s Blog Post Will Cover 4 Things:

  1. The History of Disability Pride Month
  2. Why People with Disabilities Celebrate Disability Pride Month When They Already Have Disability Employment Awareness Month (October)
  3. The Relevance of Disability Pride Month in 2021
  4. How You Can Celebrate Disability Pride Month As Both A Disabled And Non-Disabled Individual

If any of these topics sound interesting to you, be sure to keep reading

1. The History of Disability Pride Month

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was founded on July 26, 1990. This document was the “world’s first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities.” – ADA Anniversary Website

Read more about what the ADA covers here.

In the same year, the first disability pride parade was held in Boston, Massachusetts. It was held again in 1991 but it ended when the lead organizer, Diana Viets, passed away.

Thirteen years later, the parade was revived in Chicago, Illinois. The event was expected to be fairly small, but close to 2000 people attended, surpassing everyone’s expectations and ensuring a successful launch.

Disability Pride Parades have now taken place in a handful of cities across the United States and even across the pond in Brighton, UK.

In 2015, New York City Mayor de Blasio declared July Disability Pride Month in NYC in celebration of the ADA’s 25th Anniversary. Though not yet nationally declared, the disabled community has adopted New York City’s declaration.

Throughout July, people with disabilities lift one another up for their uniqueness and to amplify each other’s stories.

Sources: Disabled World and Disability Network

2. Why We Celebrate Disability Pride Month AND Disability Employment Awareness Month

Disability Pride is a fairly new and radical idea. As we learned above, the ADA wasn’t enacted until 1990.

Let me put this into perspective. If you are currently 31 years of age or older, you lived in a world where people with disabilities were unprotected against discrimination in education, transportation, the workplace, and other areas vital to a good quality of life.

Additionally, many people without disabilities still view disabled individuals as lesser humans. Because many people with disabilities are unable to work in the same capacity as their able-bodied counterparts, they are deemed weak and unproductive. In our capitalistic society, this obviously doesn’t bode well.

These hostilities and viewpoints are incredibly damaging to the self-esteem and mental health of people with disabilities.

Disability Pride is all about reminding ourselves and the rest of the world that we MATTER and have VALUE just the way we are.

Disability Employment Awareness Month specifically focuses on workplace discrimination. So, while it is important, it is not all-encompassing in the same way Disability Pride is.

We need BOTH to move forward and break down the thick barriers created by systemic ableism.

3. The Relevance of Disability Pride Month

I am going to start with some facts.

  • According to the WHO, 15% of the world’s population identify as disabled
  • Disabled Americans make up at least 1/3 of all police killings.
  • Deaths from Covid-19 are almost 2 times higher for people with disabilities
  • Disabled individuals are 2x more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than a non-disabled person in the US, and in the UK, disabled individuals were almost 2x as likely to be the victim of sexual assault.

In the last year, many of you have probably had conversations about the coronavirus pandemic, police brutality, protests, crime, climate change and/or discrimination with your friends and family.

But, be honest with yourself…

How many of those conversations included the disabled perspective?

This isn’t a shame game, it’s a tool to prove a point.

Every hot-button issue of our present moment drastically impacts people with disabilities, yet hardly anyone is talking about it.

That is precisely why celebrating Disability Pride Month is so important this year and every year moving forward.

We need to be heard, and in order to do that, we need to make noise.

Now is the time to assert our unconditional acceptance of ourselves in a society that aims to hold us down.

Disability is so much more than a diagnosis and by proclaiming our self-love, maybe others will start to see us that way too.

4. What You Can Do to Celebrate Disability Pride Month in 2021?

1. Attend a Virtual Disability Pride Event!

A quick Google search should provide plenty of information about how your local area is celebrating Disability Pride this year, but below are a few virtual events you can sign up for in advance!

Chicago: https://www.disabilityprideparade.org/ – July 18

Pennsylvania: https://disabilitypridepa.org/event-calendar2021 – June 30 (recaps available)

Diversability: https://mydiversability.com/calendar – Throughout July

Easterseals: https://www.easterseals.com/explore-resources/living-with-disability/virtual-disability-parade.html – July 26

As other events come about, I will provide updates to this page!

2. FOLLOW and SHARE authentic Disabled Stories on Social Media

You can start by following me on InstagramTikTokYouTube, and Facebook

I regularly share my experience as a disabled young woman on social media. I also often uplift other voices in the community.

If you already follow me and want to add some more disabled voices to the mix, check out these blog posts for some suggestions!

11 Black, Disabled Creators You Need to Follow on Instagram Right Now

6 Things YOU Can Do In 2021 To Be A Better Disability Community Ally

3. When discussing current events with family and friends, be sure to include disability intersectionality

This is a big one, y’all! Talking about disability in a casual setting only normalizes the topic. Normalization is key to improved understanding and empathy of the disabled lived condition as well as the increased representation of disabled people in the media and accessible spaces around the world.

Essentially, it all ties together to create a bigger pool of inclusivity!

4. Register To Vote

We may not have a big presidential election in the US this year, but local elections happen all the time and are arguably more important to the individual anyways. Stay informed and register to vote TODAY so you’re prepared for TOMORROW!

If you don’t live in the US and you want to know how you can make a change locally, feel free to get in contact with me and I will do my best to help!

5. Take time to educate yourself about the disabled community

Where to start:

6. Ensure Your Workplace/Event Is Accessible

Not sure where to start? I can help!

I’m a disability and accessibility consultant with experience helping brands improve their inclusivity of the disability community.

I provide a judgment-free collaborative experience that is tailored to you and your business.

The original version of this article was originally published on the Rolling Explorer by Jessica Ping-Wild.

For more information about Disablity Pride Month, get in touch with us.