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Disability Pride Month

I would like to begin this piece with a confession… I hadn’t actually heard about Disability Pride Month until last year! Now, I can partly understand why so many of us do not know about its existence. It hasn’t reached its prominence yet… but does exist, and rightfully so!

Disability Pride Month is the time of the year when we celebrate our differences and acknowledge the fact that people with different health conditions have a diverse living experience from one another. Whether relating to a physical condition, learning difficulties or mental health issues, we are a heterogenous group.

The roots of Disability Pride Month originate back in 1990 when for the first time Disability Pride Month was celebrated in Boston before being embraced by Chicago in 2004. Disability Pride Parades have now taken place in cities across the United States and even in Brighton, UK. However, despite the fact that it evidently exists today, why is there so little awareness about it?

The celebration of diversity of disabilities is an opportunity to recognise different aspects of  the “natural and beautiful part of human diversity”, according to America’s Disability Community.

As 2020 approached and we all faced the challenges of the pandemic, people with disabilities have been struggling as well. We haven’t been able to socialise, attend medical appointments, not being able to carry out essential shopping with ease, and in some cases not able to attend school or work.

On top of this, 1 in 6 young people with a disability have had to leave work due to COVID-19. Moreover, the disability employment gap, which is the difference between the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people, has been steadily remained around 30% for the last 10 years. This indicates that 30% of people with disabilities within the working age group are not in employment.

People with disabilities or health conditions are still widely underrepresented in many sectors. An example of lack of representation can be seen in art and culture industry where the majority of the people have either poor or very poor (52%) awareness of artists with disabilities and 87% of venues and festivals don’t involve disabled people in selection panels or in the commissioning process.

I am hoping that #DisabilityPride Month can bring awareness to the fact that many people with disability have been marginalised and excluded from certain activities, and that it would acknowledge the fact that people with disabilities are different, and we all have diverse experiences.

A good example of different experience is the fact that young girls and women often are misdiagnosed or diagnosed later with autism, as girls have a tendency to ‘camouflage’ or mask their autistic identity (Berwick, 2017). Additionally, young women are more likely to be misdiagnosed with a mental health condition rather than being identified as autistic (Muller, 2019).

I am hoping that Disability Pride Month can break down the stereotypes concerning disability and different conditions. and invite more room for discussion surrounding diversity. As we are all different in our unique ways but all the same in our desire to lead meaningful lives and be proud of who we are. 

As well as being a Marketing & Comms Officer at Steps To Work, Radost is a Champion on our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Group.

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