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July is Disability Pride Month! July is an important month for the disability community because we celebrate disability pride which is an opportunity to honor the uniqueness, history, accomplishments, and challenges of disabled people. Disability Pride Month is important to me because as a disabled person who has struggled their whole life, I have had no choice but to learn to accept my differences. When people think of disability pride often it can be assumed that it’s all about actual disabled people accepting their disabilities and it is but it’s also for ableist abled-bodied people that think we would be better off without our disabilities. Disability pride means so much more to me than disability acceptance alone because having pride in your disability isn’t just for disabled people but also for people in our lives that may struggle with accepting the fact our disabilities are here to stay and can’t be changed. In this post, I am going to talk about what having disability pride means to me as a disabled person.
When abled–bodied accept my differences instead of trying to change them– People sometimes think that disability pride is all about disabled people accepting their disabilities but that is only one part. Disabled people sometimes have a difficult time accepting their disabilities but abled-bodied people often struggle with it more and want to change our disabilities. Disability pride for me is accepting my disability for what it is but it’s also when abled-bodied people don’t try to force cures on disabled people but instead accept our differences. The main reason why a lot of disabled people struggle with accepting their disabilities is because of abled-bodied people that tell us our disabilities are the problem but it’s not our disabilities and it’s ableist abled-bodied people.
When you see my assistive devices as freedom– As a disabled person, I have no choice but to use assistive devices because I have never been able to walk and without my assistive devices I would not be able to leave my home. My assistive devices are freedom, but sadly, most people don’t see them that way and think assistive devices are a sign of weakness and that we need to throw them in the trash. If you want to say that you have disability pride, you not only have to accept me as an individual but also my assistive devices because they are part of me. Assistive devices are not something you should pity me over because they represent freedom and you should celebrate them rather than tell disabled people to get rid of them because you don’t have disabiltiy pride if you are telling me that I need to get rid of the one thing that gives me independence.
When disabled people accept their disabilities – Disabled pride is about abled-bodied accepting a disability that cannot be changed, but it’s also about disabled people not looking at their disability as one big negative and embracing their own differences. When you live with constant daily challenges, I know it’s hard to accept your disability because a vast majority of people want these challenges to go away, and I do not expect you to be happy with your disability overnight. But if you want to have disability pride, you have to learn that being disabled makes you different and to stop hating yourself every time something is hard. Disability acceptance is a huge part of disability pride because you can’t truly be happy with your disability if you are always thinking who has it better than you and wishing you were someone that you are not.
When you see accessibility is a necessity– Accessibility is important for disabled people because when things are not accessible, we are unable to perform basic tasks without assistance and do not have independence. Unfortunately, many able-bodied do not see it in the that way and accessibility is often seen as a huge expense and inconvenience for abled-bodied people. Accepting and embracing your disability is an important part of disability pride but it’s also when able-bodied people see accessibility as a necessity rather than an inconvenience because when you take the initiative to make things accessible without being forced by the ADA, it tells me you care for your disabled customers. People that tell disabled people that we whine too much for wanting more accessibility are harmful to the disabled community because advocating for more accessibility is not a case of negativity. Disabled people want to be able to do things things with their able-bodied friends but often we can’t due to its lack of accessibility and I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting more accessibility.
Disability pride is an important month for disabled people because it’s a time where we can show able-bodied people that we may not love our disabilities all the time, but we can be happy while being disabled. Disability pride is about disabled people embracing disabilities, but it does exclude able-bodied people because if you can’t accept my differences and think all disabilities need cures, you don’t have disability pride. Able-bodied individuals often are the reason many disabled people struggle to accept their disabilities, and if there is anything I would like my able-bodied friends to know, it’s that you don’t have disability pride if you can’t use certain terms when talking about disability because it makes you uncomfortable. If you are not to the point where you can use the word disabled and it does not bother you, that is okay because it takes time to get there but you can’t have disability pride if all you see is my disability rather than me as individual. What does disability pride mean to you?
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