Disability Pride

July was Disability Pride Month, so coined to commemorate the July 26, 1990 signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. The ADA is an extremely important civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination based on disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, telecommunication, businesses and non-profits that serve the public, and government services. The Disability community represents the largest minority group worldwide. It is a group that spans all ages, races, ethnicities, religions, gender identities and expressions, sexual orientations, and socio-economic status. Disabled people make up approximately 10 to 16 percent of the population.

Disability Pride is a logical extension of the Disability Rights Movement. This movement fights for equal rights, opportunities, and access for people with disabilities, and to end ableism. Ableism is the discrimination of disabled people and the belief that they are inferior to a non-disabled person. Having a disability is not something that needs to be “fixed” and disabled people need to be included in all parts of society.

Pride goes beyond the ADA. Disability Pride celebrates the people, their identities, and their contributions to society. It does not say that there are not numerous challenges, but seeks to end the idea that having a disability makes someone less than or that it is anything other than a natural part of who you are and part of your identity.

In 2021 an updated disability pride flag, which is a symbol of solidarity and acceptance, was created. The flag has different colored diagonal stripes, to represent different disabilities (red=physical disabilities, gold= cognitive or intellectual disabilities, white= not visible or undiagnosed disabilities, blue= psychiatric disabilities, and green= sensory disabilities) on a black background. The colors are muted for greater accessibility for people with seizures or migraines. The diagonal bands (from the top left to the bottom right) represent people with disabilities cutting through society’s barriers. The black background represents mourning for those harmed by Ableist cruelty.

The only way that seems appropriate to end this writing about Disability Pride is to include the thoughts of a member of the community. One of the JCC’s Inclusion Department participants, Valerie Maizel, wrote the following about her experiences here:

“I love going to the J because I meet new people at the “Going Places!” Social Club there. Over the years, I worked hard to overcome a mild disability but still found it difficult to make friends. I made wonderful friends at the club. They offer exciting events each month. My friends and I get together on our own, too. We go to movies, restaurants, and shop. We also meet weekly on Zoom. I have gained confidence, learned how to approach new people, and discovered I can enjoy communicating with them. I greatly appreciate the opportunities I have at “Going Places!” and the positive effect it has had on my life.”

The Inclusion and Disability Services department at the Pozez JCC endeavors to promote connection, community, and pride all 12 months of the year.

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