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Disability Pride Month

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Illustration of white woman wearing glasses in burgundy shirt signing PRIDE

July is recognized as Disability Pride Month, a time when people often misunderstand and think we’re celebrating our disabilities themselves. But Disability Pride is not about glorifying our disabilities; it’s about honouring our resilience and our ability to survive, and even thrive, despite the barriers and discrimination we face daily. It’s about standing tall in the face of legislation that suggests we shouldn’t exist or, if we must, that we should do so out of sight and mind. It’s about rejecting the notion that our participation in public life is a burden, and instead, asserting our right to be seen, heard, and valued.

Disability Pride acknowledges the significant challenges we face:

  • Legislative Exclusion: Many laws and policies still marginalize us, suggesting that our existence is inconvenient or undesirable.
  • Public Discrimination: There’s a pervasive belief that accommodating our needs is an undue burden on society.
  • Cultural Misconceptions: Often, we are seen as less than whole, not worth knowing or engaging with.

Despite these obstacles, we build relationships within our communities and beyond. We support each other, creating networks of solidarity that many would find difficult to maintain under such pressure. Unfortunately, these challenges can break many people, but our pride lies in our collective strength and achievements.

For the Deaf community, language deprivation is a critical issue. The lack of access to sign language and captioning for events, online content, and television shows highlights a significant injustice.

In the realms of education, law, and medicine, our rights to bilingualism—especially in sign language—are often ignored. Despite the fact that 90% of Deaf children are born to hearing parents, many parents are either unaware of their children’s rights or must fight tirelessly to secure them. In schools, Deaf students frequently lack access to sign language interpreters, making it difficult for them to engage fully with their education. Legal settings often fail to provide interpreters, leaving Deaf individuals without a clear understanding of proceedings that profoundly affect their lives. In medical contexts, the absence of sign language interpreters can lead to misunderstandings and inadequate care, jeopardizing our health and well-being.

We are continually fighting for our rights to communicate in our natural language. Disability Pride means confidently claiming our Deaf identity, no longer hiding it out of fear or shame. It’s about humanizing our experiences and pushing back against the forces that seek to marginalize us.

Disability Pride also involves pushing back against eugenics, discriminatory legislation, poverty, and ableism in all its forms. Our struggles intersect with those of other marginalized groups, and our fight for rights and recognition often overlaps with broader social justice movements. We make able-bodied people uncomfortable because we challenge their perceptions of normalcy and capability.

My relationship with my deafness is complex. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows, and that’s perfectly fine. I’m proud of everything I’ve achieved despite my deafness. One way I give back is by actively participating in organizations for the Deaf, where I can fight for our rights and help fill in the gaps that still exist.

On top of that, I have a deep understanding of how crucial inclusive communication is in the workplace. This insight has allowed me to offer consultation services, where I help improve communication practices to benefit everyone, not just Deaf people. It’s incredibly fulfilling to see workplaces become more inclusive and accessible, knowing that these changes make a real difference in people’s lives. This work is a significant part of my life, and it fills me with pride to contribute to a more inclusive world.

Disability Pride is about celebrating our ability to endure and succeed in a world that often tries to push us aside. It’s about showing others who are struggling that they are not alone, and that there is hope and strength in our community. By sharing our stories and standing up for our rights, we aim to lose fewer people to the overwhelming challenges we face. Together, we take pride in our resilience, our achievements, and our ability to inspire others to keep fighting.

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