Celebrating Disability Pride Month
By: Heather Servais, Project Manager
July is a landmark month for the disability rights movement as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990. This historic event was the culmination of decades of effort by Disability Rights advocates to address discrimination and have their civil rights recognized. After the passage of the ADA, the idea of Disability Pride began to take shape with celebrations and parades all over the country. Disability Pride celebrates the diversity and uniqueness of each person with a disability, as well as the disability community as a whole.
One of the most recognizable symbols of the Disability Pride movement is the Disability Pride Flag. Originally conceived in 2019 and updated in 2021 to be more accessible and inclusive, the flag was created by Ann Magill, a woman with a disability, with feedback from the disability community. It has color lines running diagonally across a black background.
Each color and line are a significant symbol to the disability community. The black field represents individuals with disabilities who have lost their lives due to illness, negligence, suicide, and eugenics. The diagonal color bands represent cutting across the walls and barriers that separate individuals with disabilities, as well as light cutting through darkness. The colors of the flag represent different aspects of disability. The blue line represents mental illness. The yellow line signifies neurodivergence. White represents individuals with invisible and undiagnosed disabilities. Green represents sensory perception disabilities, and red signifies physical disabilities. The flag honors the inclusive approach of Disability Pride and encourages all to be involved.
As we celebrate Disability Pride and recognize the progress toward inclusion and equity of individuals with disabilities over the last 32 years, we acknowledge there is still more work to do. In the United States, there are 61 million people living with a disability, nearly one in four people. Individuals with disabilities are less likely to have completed a bachelor’s degree than those without a disability. According to recent labor statistics, 19.1 percent of individuals with disabilities are employed, compared to 63.7 percent of those without a disability. Individuals with disabilities are three times more likely to be denied healthcare, and four to 10 times more likely to experience violence than those without disabilities.
I am proud to be a part of the New Editions Consulting, Inc., a company known for inclusive hiring practices and providing high quality work in the field of disability, aging, education, and human services. New Editions has been recognized as a National Organization on Disability (NOD). The NOD Leading Disability Employer Seal “recognizes companies for measuring and achieving strong talent outcomes for people with disabilities. With this recognition, NOD endeavors to shine a light on those employers that are committed to building an inclusive workforce by adopting exemplary employment practices for people with disabilities. New Editions has also been recognized as a 2022 Top Workplace by the Washington Post. Being a part of a team that values diversity, creativity, teamwork, and excellence allows us to embrace the spirit of Disability Pride in all we do.
The project I manage is the National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials (NCRTM), funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). The NCRTM is the central clearinghouse for vocational rehabilitation information for individuals with disabilities and offers the vocational rehabilitation and education communities an opportunity to contribute new knowledge to their specific fields and gain visibility for their work.
We also support the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) and the Interagency on Disability Research. We prepare an Annual Report to Congress for the Office of Special Education Programs. Other contracts include providing technical assistance on Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). We also do research and evaluation on disability and aging topics for the Administration on Community Living. We have a number of contracts providing Section 508 accessibility support services. For Disability:IN, New Editions developed functional requirements and built the Disability Equality Index (DEI) survey tool system and website. The DEI is a national, transparent benchmarking survey tool that offers Fortune 1000 businesses an opportunity to measure their disability inclusion policies and practices.
We take great pride in our disability work and all of us at New Editions celebrate the anniversary of the ADA and Disability Pride Month.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, September 16). Disability impacts all of us infographic. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved July 18, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/infographic-disability-impacts-all.html#:~:text=61%20million%20adults%20in%20the,have%20some%20type%20of%20disability
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