07/11/2022 – “July is Disability Pride Month” By Kaylee McGrath
For the past 32 years, July has been an important month for the disability community. The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed on July 26, 1990. As a proud woman with a processing/learning disability, I am reminded every day of the unique qualities that my challenges have allowed me to gain as well as show and help others. I am empathetic, strong, and competently trained for many work projects and situations. As we all know or should know is, living as a disabled person is tough. Not only is there a reality of having a chronic illness, physical, mental, or a hidden disability but our society has a long way to go when it comes to the negative associations around various disabilities. How others observe us in the workplace and out in the community will be an ongoing battle for acceptance. Even though these acts/laws are in place, there are still individuals in various workplaces and in the community ignore, mistreat, and are not willing to give disabled people a chance either socially or professionally. Listed below are suggestions on what you can do during “July Disability Pride Month.
Learn about “Disability First Language”
• When talking about or describing people in the disability community, you’ll often hear two different phrases being used, “disabled people” vs. “people with disabilities”. The exchanging nature of these phrases spreads the lack of independence disabled people have over how we are represented and seen. With both being common, it’s hard to know which one is the most appropriate to use. Many people learned that People First language (like “people with disabilities”) was most appropriate to use, because it centered the person first and foremost. For years however, the disability community has been pushing for the use of Disability First language. The phrase “disabled people” puts disability at the front and center of who we are, and gives us the action to live realistically with our diagnoses.
• People First language, or the phrase “people with disabilities” separates our disabled identity from who we are. This language and the use of phrases like “differently abled” prolong the idea that disability is synonymous with “less than”. We do not need different words to make disability more pleasant, acceptable, or unacceptable.
• People First vs. Disability First will continue to be an ongoing conversation within the disability community for a long time, I’m sure.
You Can Read Books by Disabled Authors:
There is no better way to learn about disabled people than from disabled individuals directly.
Demystifying Disability by Emily Ladau
“Disabled people are the world’s largest minority, an estimated 15 percent of the global population. But many of us–disabled and non-disabled alike–don’t know how to act, what to say, or how to be an ally to the disability community. Demystifying Disability is a friendly handbook on important disability issues.”
Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from The Twenty-First Century Edited by Alice Wong
“One in five people in the United States lives with a disability. Some disabilities are visible, others less noticeable (hidden), but all are underrepresented in media and popular culture. Activist Alice Wong, brings together this urgent, galvanizing collection of contemporary essays by disabled people.”
There has been a big wave of films centered around disability receiving critical acclaim. Recently, “CODA” won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
CODA stands for Child of Deaf Adults. The film centers around Ruby, the only hearing member in her family. She rediscovers her passion for singing and wishes to pursue that in college. However, she struggles with gaining independence as her family depends on her to translate and keep their fishing business afloat. This movie is a really beautiful depiction of the interpersonal realities of disability, as well as the importance of ensuring access for everyone.
You Can Also Take Action:
Call your Elected Officials about the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act. In 2021, Senators Baldwin and Langevin introduced the Air Carrier Amendments Act which expands the ACAA that prohibits airlines from discriminating against passengers with disabilities. According to AllWheelsUp, the amendment would expand the existing law to include the following:
• Require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to refer complaints to the Department of Justice so that individuals have the ability to seek redress through the court system; this is known as a private right of action.
• Require the DOT to levy civil penalties on airlines for committing violations. Ensure new aircrafts are designed to accommodate all individuals by requiring airlines to meet accessibility standards. This includes ensuring that there are accessible seating accommodations, safe boarding and deplaning, and visually accessible announcements.
Source of Information: Various Google Searches
Until Next Week, Stay Safe and Well!