July is Disability Pride Month

Disability Pride Month
Image by Elf-Moondance

Disability Pride Month is celebrated every July to honor the history, achievements, experiences, and struggles of the disability community. The specially designated month marks the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in everyday activities. This landmark legislation, which broke down barriers to inclusion in society, was signed into law on July 26, 1990 by President George H.W. Bush.

From parking to voting, the ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in many areas of public life including employment, communications, transportation, public accommodations, and access to state and local government programs and services. Failure to eliminate barriers to disabled people can be just as discriminatory as intentionally refusing entry, providing unequal service, or categorically denying opportunities to disabled people.

Disability awareness is the recognition and respect of people with diverse abilities and needs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some examples of various types of disabilities include:

  • Mobility impairments, such as difficulty walking or using stairs
  • Blindness or low vision
  • Deafness or hearing loss
  • Cognitive disabilities, including difficulty with memory, problem-solving, and attention
  • Mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety
  • Chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease

Special needs of people with disabilities include the following:

  • A deaf applicant may need a sign language interpreter during the job interview.
  • An employee with diabetes may need regularly scheduled breaks during the workday to eat properly and monitor blood sugar and insulin levels.
  • A blind student may need someone to read information posted on a bulletin board.
  • A person in a wheelchair may need a ramp or elevator to get upstairs in public spaces.

There are many famous people with disabilities. Here are some examples:

  • Stephen Hawking, a British theoretical physicist who had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
  • Helen Keller, an American writer and speaker who was deaf-blind.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, an American president who had polio and used a wheelchair.
  • Christopher Reeve, an American actor who had quadriplegia.
  • Nick Vujicic, an Australian motivational speaker who was born without limbs.

There are many misconceptions about disabilities. Here are some common ones:

  • All people with disabilities use wheelchairs.
  • People with disabilities are pitiable, laughable, or tragic.
  • People with disabilities don’t want or can’t be in relationships.
  • People with disabilities don’t travel.
  • People with disabilities are dependent on others.
  • Wheelchair use is confining and people who use wheelchairs are “wheelchair-bound.”

There are many ways to help people with disabilities. Here are some examples:

  • Treat people with disabilities as equals.
  • Never be afraid, skeptical, or embarrassed to approach someone with a disability.
  • Volunteer your time and skills.
  • Raise or donate money.
  • Help with accessibility in your community.
  • Be a friend to someone with a disability.

School can be difficult for children with disabilities. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, students with disabilities are more likely to experience bullying and harassment than their peers without disabilities. They may also face challenges in accessing the curriculum and participating in extracurricular activities. However, there are resources available to help students with disabilities succeed in school. For example, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires schools to provide special education services to eligible students with disabilities.

In many cases, home education can be beneficial for children who have disabilities. In fact, students diagnosed with disabilities such as autism often thrive in a homeschool environment. Homeschooling can be the perfect solution to many of the problems that children with disabilities might face at a traditional public or private school. Here are five ways that homeschooling can help children with disabilities succeed in their schooling:

  • Homeschooling allows for individualized instruction.
  • Homeschooling provides a safe and comfortable learning environment.
  • Homeschooling allows for flexibility in scheduling.
  • Homeschooling allows for more time to focus on areas of difficulty.
  • Homeschooling allows for more time to pursue extracurricular interests.

Disabled or not, there are many ways to celebrate Disability Pride Month. You can learn about disability history and culture, share stories and experiences, advocate for disability rights and inclusion, support businesses owned by people with disabilities, donate to groups like Disabled American Veterans, and watch content, read articles, or purchase books by creators who are part of the disabled community.

If disability advocacy and helping people is something that interests you, consider a career helping students with disabilities or become a special education teacher!

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