Every July, the United States and other countries around the world celebrate Disability Pride Month to share the experiences of people with disabilities, recognize disability as an identity and explore how disabled individuals bring joy to their communities.
Disability Pride Month has been celebrated since 1990 when the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in July of that year. Since then, the month has received support from around the globe and is celebrated by the United Kingdom, South Africa and other countries. It serves as a time for people with disabilities to embrace who they are.
Here are a few things to know about people with disabilities.
1. Disability Facts and Figures
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 (26%) of adults in the U.S. have a disability, and the south has the highest percentage of people living with disabilities.
There are different percentages of people who have functional disabilities. For example, 13.7% of people who have a disability have a mobility disability which causes difficulty in walking or climbing stairs. Cognition disabilities, which create difficulties when it comes to concentrating, remembering or making decisions, impact 10.8% of people with disabilities. Vision disabilities such as blindness or difficulty seeing even while wearing glasses impacts 4.6% of people with disabilities.
The CDC also notes that disability is common among older adults, women and minorities.
2. More Needs To Be Done To Create an Inclusive Environment for People With Disabilities
While the Americans with Disabilities Act has helped people with disabilities, there’s a lot more work to be done, especially when it comes to employing people with disabilities.
According to the National Organization on Disability, practices to fill the disability inclusion gap lag behind veteran and diversity strategies at companies. Seventy percent of companies have employee resource groups (ERGs) for employees with disabilities while 77% and 88% of companies have ERGs for veterans and diversity, respectively.
NOD offers an Employment Tracker and other resources to help companies improve programs focused on hiring and retaining people with disabilities.
3. How You Can Help
To improve the health and quality of life for people living with disabilities, there are numerous ways to get involved in your community, at work and on a national or global scale.
The first step is to educate yourself on issues people with disabilities face and to learn more on how organizations are helping. For example, the CDC partners with organizations such as the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities to improve the lives of people with disabilities by promoting healthy living, monitoring public health data, improving access to healthcare and more. Additional information can be found on the CDC’s website.
In a blog post from the American Foundation for the Blind, Dr. Carlie Rhoads, Program Metrics and Evaluation Specialist for AFB, said the best way to celebrate Disability Pride Month is by amplifying the voices of people with disabilities.
“The disability community is hurting from a lack of representation, especially when compared to the representation of more typical people. This representation extends from our day-to-day lives, to employment, to government, to positions of leadership, and even media of all sorts,” she writes. “This month affords us all a great opportunity to lift up the disability community and shine a spotlight on people who are often marginalized, forgotten or explicitly discriminated against. All voices should be equally given a chance to speak!”
Rhoads herself is a person with an invisible disability. As a member of the disability community, she said she is proud to uplift other people with disabilities.
“Disability Pride Month is our month to be loud and proud and to let our voices ring out and be heard,” Rhoads writes. “I encourage everyone to spread the word about this wonderful pride month. We should be advocating and speaking up all year long, but July is our month and we should celebrate!”