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It’s becoming widely known that June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month. But did you know that July is Disability Pride month? Since 1990, July has been dedicated to celebrating the disabled community. It’s purpose? To combat ableism by celebrating the achievements of people with disabilities. To recognise disabled activism, honour the progress and resilience of the disabled community and remember those who are no longer with us. And to build a better future for disabled youth.

Disability Pride Month originated in Boston in 1990 to mark the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s seen as a time for all people with disabilities to unapologetically celebrate their bodies. It’s a time for allies to show up. So what could you do this Disability Pride Month?

 

Learn about ableism

When we talk about social justice, we often talk about racism and sexism and many other ‘isms’. But ableism is often left out. The world wasn’t set up with people with disabilities in mind. And as a result, it’s inherently ‘ableist’.

What is ableism? It’s the discrimination of and social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior. Just like racism and sexism, ablism lumps an entire group of people together and classes them as ‘less than’. This grouping together often includes harmful stereotypes, misconceptions and generalisations of people with disabilities.

In real terms, this looks like assuming that people with disabilities want or need to be ‘fixed’. Using disability as a punchline in jokes or mocking people with disabilities. Refusing to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities. Lack of accessibility. Asking invasive questions about a person’s medical history. There are many ways we can be accidentally ableist on both big and small scales.

Access Living’s guide to recognising and averting ableism is a brilliant starting point.

 

Diversify your feed

Let’s face it, sometimes we see more of our social media feeds than our own families. No judgement here friends. But the more we can do to diversify our feed, the more we can broaden our worldview. We all come to social media for different reasons. Whether we’re there to connect with others, for entertainment, for activism or just to waste a bit of time, mixing up who we follow on social is key. Because otherwise we’re just creating an echo chamber.

If you’re looking for parents who live with disabilities, we love @fashionbellee for her positivity, colour and exploration of accessibility, @cathyreaywrites for her frank and honest hot takes, @whentaniatalks for her mobility aid style and @sitting_pretty for her candid portraits of motherhood.

 

Talk to your kids about disability

Whether it’s a classmate who has autism or a loved one who uses a wheelchair, your child probably has someone in their life who looks, talks, acts, or moves a little bit differently. The great thing about kids? They are not afraid to ask questions. The tough thing about kids? These questions are often blunt, piercingly to the point and can leave parents embarrassed and unsure of how to answer.

Knowing how to talk to your child about disabilities can feel like a minefield. We get so worried about getting it wrong, we sometimes don’t say anything at all. But our kids are learning about the world long before they start talking about it and it’s our duty as caregivers to make sure they treat anyone the meet with respect and dignity – so it’s our responsibility to do the work and answer their questions with the same qualities. One of the best things about kids pointing out differences between them and other people is that it gives us an opportunity to educate them and ourselves, while celebrating the brilliantly diverse world we live in. So how do we tackle talking to kids about disabilities? We’ve got you covered with our handy guide.

 

Listen to lived experiences

The most important thing we can do when we’re trying to learn is listen. When you’re parenting in a world that isn’t set up for you, challenges are everywhere. Ade Adepitan shared just how complex it can be:

“One of my biggest fears was always could I be a good father in all the ways that an able bodied person would be a good father? The first time I went out with the ergo sling on my own with Bolla, I was really nervous about it. I was thinking ‘what if I fall out of my wheelchair, what if Bolla starts screaming and people start looking at me, thinking I’m not fir to look after a baby?’

He added: “I think the fear for a lot of disabled parents is that we’ll be judged by able bodied parents as not being capable of looking after our children.”

 

Be an advocate

Don’t just be an ally – be an advocate. If you see that your workplace is not as accessible as it could be, do something about it. Raise it with your management. Are the kids with disabilities at your child’s school taken care of? Are their parents supported appropriately? Is there anything you can do to help lighten the load? You don’t have to be a saviour – don’t centre yourself in these issues. But see where you can use your able-bodied privilege to make a difference.

Amplify the voices and work of disabled activists. Boosting other people’s work is a really valuable way to contribute to discussions around disability, especially if they’re issues that do not affect you personally. ‘Passing the mic’ to those with lived experiences is crucial if you are a non-disabled ally.

Remember disability issues when you vote. People with disabilities register and vote at lower rates than non-disabled people so there’s no better place to be an ally than in the ballot box. Having an awareness of where candidates stand on disability issues can help you form your opinion when you decide who to vote for.

 

Watch CODA

Remember when CODA won the Oscar for Best Picture? It made massive waves and for good reason. Films centred around disability have increasingly been receiving critical acclaim. This is one of the greats.

CODA stands for Child of Deaf Adults and the movie looks at the story of Ruby, who’s the only hearing member of her family. It’s on Apple TV+ and is a gorgeous exploration of the realities of disability and accessibility.

 

How will you celebrate Disability Pride this July?

 

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