When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different, we become a wiser, more inclusive, and better organization. – Pat Wadors, Chief People Officer, Procure Technologies
What is Disability Pride Month?
In 2015, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared July as Disability Pride Month to celebrate the ADA’s 25th anniversary. Disability Pride Month commemorates the passage of the ADA (Americans with Disability Act) and promotes visibility and positive awareness, acceptance, and recognition, and educates others on being an ally. It’s also about reminding everyone that people with disabilities matter and they have the same values and rights as non-disabled people.
“The month is a chance to honor each person’s uniqueness as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity,” according to America’s Disability Community.
Relatively new, Disability Pride Month isn’t nationally recognized yet. Because it’s not recognized, many organizations don’t celebrate it the same way we celebrate other Pride months (LGBTQIA+ Pride, Black History, AAPI, etc). However, in October, organizations celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) that “raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities,” according to the Office of Disability Employment Policy.
The main difference is that Disability Pride Month focuses on allyship, positive influence, and embracing the disabilities that the community has. It’s about recognizing that their differences make them unique.
Social media and the internet have helped raise awareness about Disability Pride month and what it means to people and employees with disabilities. Organizations can use this month as an opportunity to create a more inclusive workplace for employees with disabilities.
Create Visibility and Awareness For Your Workforce
All too often, our society leaves out people with disabilities. As a result, disability is broadly overlooked in DEI initiatives, whether at the organizational, societal, or individual level. Disability Pride Month provides people without disabilities an opportunity to be a better ally for employees with disabilities.
There is a lack of representation and an ongoing stigma attached to people with disabilities, even in the workplace. Disability Pride Month is a chance for everyone to become better allies, and educate themselves and others about ableism.
Ableism is any form of discrimination in favor of non-disabled people. It comes in many different forms that range from subtly offensive language to outright prejudice. Some lesser-known examples of ableism include sayings such as “That’s so lame,” or “My suggestion fell on deaf ears.” Using a class of disability as an idiom or to illustrate a point can offend and alienate disabled people.
Ableism can also come from well-intended actions. It’s important that disabilities be acknowledged, without unduly affecting the expectations of the disabled individual. Ignoring a disability or pretending it doesn’t exist is a form of ableism. The language we use and the way we acknowledge or fail to, disabilities are just a couple of common examples of ableism that can occur in the workplace. Let Disability Pride Month serve as a chance to highlight ableism and how it plays into our own unconscious biases.
Emtrain’s Ethics and Compliance expert Michelle Nichols, wrote a blog post to celebrate the ADA’s 30th anniversary in 2020 and dives into how to embed disability inclusion in your organization’s DEI programs.
“Building a well-rounded disability inclusion program ensures success for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) adherence AND continues to build the culture of success in an effective D&I program. While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides a useful disability inclusion framework, let’s remember that it is a mere starting point, not a ceiling!”
Read more in the blog post: Health and Disability Inclusion: A Quick Guide
How Your Organization Can Celebrate Disability Pride Month
It’s essential to raise awareness, educate your employees about the disabled community, and create an inclusive environment for employees with disabilities. So they will feel seen, heard, and included. Some ways to celebrate this month include:
- Share your company’s accommodation and accessibility statement on your corporate website and social media channels to drive awareness, visibility, and influence other organizations to do the same.
- Recognize and address Disability Pride Month in your Company’s All Hands, internal newsletter, and your company’s team’s chat app channel.
- Provide resources for education on Disability Pride Month. AmeriDisability and Disability Pride NYC are excellent resources and educational tools for people with disabilities and allies.
- Amplify voices from people with disabilities. Share stories of people with disabilities, how they embrace their individuality, and the obstacles they face daily.
- Educate non-disabled employees on ableism, and common examples of ableism.
Let’s make Disability Pride Month the foundation to build a more inclusive culture for employees with disabilities and better allies. Learn more about building inclusion and belonging in your workplace by checking out our Diversity and Inclusion course.