July marks Disability Pride Month, an annual observance used to change the conversation around disability and promote awareness of the pride felt by people with disabilities.
The disability pride flag was designed by Ann Magill to celebrate the pride that she and others feel as people who are disabled. The world’s first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), was established on July 26, 1990. In other words, 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 that determine a good quality of life.
What is disability pride?
Disability pride is an integral part of movement building, and a direct challenge of systemic ableism and stigmatizing definitions of disability. Often, people think about a disability as a medical diagnosis. Disability can be physical or mental, like cerebral palsy or bipolar disorder; common or rare, like chronic back pain or narcolepsy; visible or invisible, like Down syndrome or learning disabilities. Regardless, it’s important to remember that disability is more than just a condition. Rather, it is a part of one's identity. "Disability Pride" has been defined as accepting and honoring each person's uniqueness and seeing it as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity. The first Disability Pride Day was held in Boston in 1990; the first U.S. based Disability Pride Parade was held in Chicago in 2004. Today, Disability Pride Parades are held all over the world. These events celebrate "disability culture" with the intention to end the stigma and positively influence the way people think about and define disability.
What can you do to improve your allyship to disabled friends, family, neighbors, and community members?
Register to vote.
Follow and share authentic disabled stories on social media.
When discussing current events with family and friends, be sure to include the disability intersectionality.
When you spot inaccessibility, say something.
Email or call your elected officials to let them know you care about disability rights.
Hire people with disabilities.
Avoid using ableist language. See the person, not the disability.
Share this article so other people in your network can learn about Disability Pride.
And most importantly, continue to educate yourself, and listen and learn from those around you.
Where does the IFT stand on Disability Pride?
Advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion is an integral part of our mission and our work.
IFT RESOLUTION: Support for Early Intervention and Equalization of Opportunities By, For, and With Persons with Disabilities The Illinois Federation of Teachers recognizes the profound social cultural and economic disadvantages and exclusion experienced by many persons with cognitive or physical disabilities and support proactive measures towards altering the perception of disability and ensuring that societies recognize that all people must have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
While we have worked hard to maintain class size protections for special education, testified against isolation rooms, advocated for accessibility in the workplace, and helped special education students pursue higher education or career training, we recognize there is more work to be done. This Disability Pride Month, let's come together with pride to form a critical mass of disability representation. Our rights depend on it.