For Tiffany Yu, Disability Pride Month is about recognizing your disability as an integral part of your personality. For Anthony Rios, it’s about accepting that his disability makes him different, not worse.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed by then President George HW Bush on July 26, 1990, a landmark law that banned discrimination against people with disabilities. That same year, Boston hosted the first Disability Pride Day.
Although Disability Pride Day is not nationally recognized, parades are held nationwide in a number of locations, such as: B. in Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, San Antonio and more. In 2015, former New York City Mayor de Blasio declared July Disability Pride Month in NYC to mark the 25th anniversary of ADA.
The month is an opportunity to honor the uniqueness of each person as “a natural and beautiful part of human diversity,” according to the American disability community.
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Rios, who is blind, said he grew up hearing his family and adults talk about his disability as if it was an illness or a burden. When he was 10 years old, he remembers his mother praying and asking God why her son was “cursed” with blindness. As he got older and made friends in the disabled community, Rios said he learned to accept his blindness and thrive.
Rios said he was reminded every July that he didn’t need the compassion of others – just acceptance of his disability.
“We don’t want your pity. We want your pride,” said Rios USA TODAY.
When she was nine, Yu had a car accident that paralyzed one of her arms and killed her father. For years, Yu tried to hide her disability by wearing long-sleeved shirts and refusing to talk about the accident. She later developed PTSD and faced the constant challenge of healing and accepting herself.
“So not only was I disabled, I also lost a parent and experienced a childhood trauma. I think a lot of my healing process has truly been fully embodied in who I can be and who I am, “Yu told USA TODAY. “So this month is about people with disabilities like me falling in love with themselves.”
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This Disability Pride Month she hopes to celebrate the little successes and joys in life, like learning to curl her hair with the help of her foot. She hopes to draw Stolz’s attention to the term “disabled” and to ableism, the discrimination against people with disabilities.
“I want people to explore what Ableism creates and why they don’t like the word disabled, because there is really nothing wrong or wrong with being disabled,” said Yu, founder of Diversability and Awesome Foundation Disability Chapter.
Rebecca Cokley said she was fortunate to grow up in a home where she felt no different or an outcast from society. Cokley and her parents have achondroplasia, a type of bone growth disorder that leads to dwarfism. Although most of her friends with disabilities were not welcome in their communities, they were welcomed to Cokley’s home. In her adult life and professional work, Cokley strives to provide these safe spaces for everyone.
For them, Disability Pride Month isn’t just about accepting disabilities, it’s also about loving yourself on tough days.
“For me, this month is not just about celebrating disabilities, but remembering that there will be days when you won’t always love your disability, and that’s fine,” said Cokley.
Celebrating Disability Pride Month, Jessica Ping-Wild urges people to listen and amplify the voices of people with disabilities. She said the community suffers from a lack of representation and care from non-disabled people.
Ping-Wild has CHILD syndrome, a rare hereditary disease that causes underdevelopment or lack of limbs and inflammation of large areas of the skin. She said it was important to celebrate this month because everyone deserves to be comfortable in their own skin and everyone experiences disabilities differently. The community is diverse and everyone deserves a vote, Ping-Wild said.
“To me, Disability Pride means many things. It is an opportunity for disabled people to demonstrate their innate sense of self-worth, something that is not often done by those outside the community. It is an opportunity for the community with disabilities to come together and uplift , and are mutually reinforcing, “said Ping-Wild, founder of The Rolling Explorerblog, USA TODAY. “Perhaps most importantly, it is time for all of us to make a lot of noise in the fight for disabled access.”
Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda