Caroline Casey Contributor (Forbes.com)
I am a social entrepreneur and cover disability inclusion in business.
Jul 4, 2022,11:00am EDT
People from Italian disability organizations take part in a ‘Disability Pride Parade’, in front of the Altare della Patria, the Monument of the unknown soldier, on July 14, 2019 in central Rome. – July is designated as “Disability Pride Month” in honor of the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act that aims to guarantee equal opportunities and rights for people with disabilities. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
Disability Pride Month looks to celebrate disability as an identity by sharing the experiences of the disabled community. The reason behind the month is a chance to share the joy and pride that disabled people can bring to their local and global communities. The disabled community is a vibrant part of society and makes up 15% of the population, and we are proud of that.
It is an important opportunity to highlight how more needs to be done to make the world accessible and inclusive for us as disabled people. Although we have moved forward, we have not moved fast enough. Disability should have a month of being in the spotlight, and if this helps to educate or at least make people think, then it is nothing but a positive move.
It is about proudly owning our identities and not pleading for acceptance, more leading the way, and feeling included within society.
Disability pride month is an opportunity for all of us in the disability community to be proud of who we are. To raise awareness, allowing us all to look at how different organizations, charities, and businesses can become more accessible to people living with long-lasting health conditions, disabilities, or mental health conditions. Intersectionality has never been more key than now. Everyone has their own unique experiences of discrimination and oppression or being othered, and we must consider everything and anything that can marginalize people – gender, race, class, sexual orientation, religion or belief, and disability. And having this month on disability pride hopefully helps eradicate the need for the misplaced pity of people with disabilities or the thoughts that those with a disability are not as fortunate or valuable.
Yet, some have misconceived the idea behind it all, thinking it is another LGBTQIA+ event and it is not. An article written last year in verywellmind articulates it well from a quote, Laken Brooks, a now 27-year-old graduate student at the University of Florida, writer, and digital storyteller said, “Disability Pride is an event that celebrates people with disabilities. Now, some people may balk at that second word, pride. But Disability Pride is not about appropriating LGBTQIA+ Pride. In fact, the disabled and the LGBTQIA+ communities have long been intertwined and have long survived under similar systems of oppression. Disability Pride, much like LGBTQIA+ Pride, is all about celebrating and reclaiming our visibility in public because people with disabilities have historically been pushed out of public spaces.”
This July for people with disabilities feels more like a declaration of unconditional pride in being disabled and embracing it. We are proud because of who we are, and that pride does not depend on meeting particular benchmarks for success or normality. What is normal anyway? For many of us, it is also a direct encouragement to be seen and to interact fully with our disabilities up front and not to hide just because it minimizes the comfort or convenience of others.
However, we should also see this as a moment to understand some people may not feel comfortable disclosing. We must respect that we are all on our own personal journeys and at various stages. If having this month can allow others to feel seen and have the confidence to be open with their disability, that is good enough.
Members of the largest CEO collective focused on disability inclusion within business, the Valuable 500, are equally celebrating the month. To mark Disability Pride, recruitment company PageGroup, whose CEO, Steve Ingham, is the only FTSE 250 CEO to have disclosed lived experience of disability, is launching a new accessibility resource for businesses. Following the launch of online accessibility software ‘Recite Me’ across its websites. PageGroup is bringing together various charities and social enterprises to create extensive advice and guidance to help other companies make their recruitment processes more accessible, specifically for those with sight loss, learning difficulties, or those who are neurodiverse, in the first instance.
This month of awareness reminds us that it is radical for disabled people to just be. To find moments of joy and solidarity in a world that remains unwelcoming to many people with disabilities. This month is for the disabled community by the disabled community, and it is about embracing what our conditions are and the value that we all have.
The people who are driving this change and pushing it through are the younger generation. They are the fire behind this. This generation is the force making us do better. Let all proudness of Disability Pride month begin.