Disability Pride Month was originally formed as a result of “The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)” which was passed on July 26, 1990, to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities. Following this legislation, Boston held the first Disability Pride Day event in July 1990 and Disability Pride Month was born.
From there, the first Disability Pride Day Parade was held in Chicago in 2004 and now globally there is a greater awareness, understanding and reach of what it means to embrace disabilities.
Why is Disability Pride Month Important?
Disability Pride Month aims to raise awareness, acceptance and celebrate each person’s uniqueness and seeing it as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity. Disabilities can be an integral part of individual’s lives and by being collectively open and aware we can contribute to a greater level of understanding, support and change that is needed across all disabilities.
The Disability Flag
The Disability Pride flag was created by Ann Magill, a disabled woman, with each coloured element representing a different disability.
Black represents the disabled people who have lost their lives due not only to their condition, but also to negligence, suicide, and eugenics
Red represents physical disabilities
Yellow represents cognitive and intellectual disabilities
White represents invisible and undiagnosed disabilities
Blue represents mental illness
Green represents sensory perception disabilities
Recently, the Disability Pride Flag has been redesigned based on feedback that the original lightning bolt design created a strobe effect and posed a risk for people with epilepsy and migraine sufferers.
Let’s look closer at some of the disabilities represented above...
Esther Mary Vergeer is a retired Dutch wheelchair tennis player. Combining singles and doubles, she has won 48 Grand Slam tournaments, 23 year-end championships and 7 Paralympics titles. Vergeer was the world number one wheelchair tennis player from 1999 until her retirement in February 2013. In singles matches, she was undefeated since January 2003 and ended her career on a winning streak of 470 matches. She has often been mentioned as the most dominant player in professional sports.
Your journey to disability pride can start with a simple commitment to believing in the worth of your strengths.
Invisible & Mental Disability
When thinking about disability, the first thing that comes to mind for many is physical disabilities. If we can’t see something, we tend to not realise it’s there. Equally, someone may intentionally choose to disguise their mental disability, which can lead them to being mistreated. People with mental disabilities may feel ashamed of their differences due to the social norms set out in society, where historically disabilities were deemed as abnormal. Being judged in this way, or the thought of being so, can leave many to suffer in silence, because acknowledging their individuality may lead them to being treated unfairly and/or unequally.
The world as we know today was heavily influenced by Albert Einstein who was both autistic and dyslexic. Autism affects the brain and the way someone thinks, socialises both verbal and non-verbal communication. Dyslexia affects the way one reads comprehension due to structural abnormalities. However, it is not to say, that progress has not been made over the years to ensure that those with disabilities are getting treated and cared for properly, with the same respect as everyone else.
People with disabilities are still people, still have feelings, still have a brain to use by themselves.
Disability in the Workplace
Disability is a 'protected characteristic', as a result employees do not have to tell their employers or potential employers that they have a disability. However, if they do decide to inform their employers about their disability, the employer has a legal responsibility to support them. Employers should help create an environment and recruitment process where people feel safe and comfortable to talk about disabilities.
When working with a disability your employer might have to make adjustments to help you do your job the same as they would do for someone without a disability. The Equality Act 2010 calls these ‘reasonable adjustments’. These can be changes to policies, working practices or physical layouts, or providing extra equipment or support.
If your employer doesn’t make the adjustments they have a duty to make, it could be discrimination. You might be able to complain or take them to an employment tribunal to get what you need.
Let there be Pride in Disability
Remember you can use your pride to not be afraid to ask for help and ask what you need. Being proud of your differences does not mean you are showing weakness by asking for help. In fact, asking for help takes courage and strength of character.
Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your disability as one of your greatest strengths in job interviews or when looking to join a community group or integrate into community life. Let decision-makers and employers know that having a disability has allowed you to learn skills and you bring a unique world view to the position.
Use your disability as a gateway to network and meet new people. Being proud means you are not afraid to use your disability as an icebreaker, to start a conversation, or to introduce yourself in order to build important connections in your community or make new friends. Acknowledging your disability first can help others embrace it, too!
Find a job with our inclusive employers at Bridge of Hope Careers
We provide thousands of jobs every day with inclusive employers who understand and commit to the mission of making all recruitment, inclusive recruitment. Where equality, diversity and inclusion and protecting the nine characteristics is priority and not only is it so, but many employers also recognise, embrace and celebrate the uniqueness that each person can and will bring.
Find your next job at www.bridgeofhope.careers/jobs