Although disabled individuals are the most diverse and largest minority group in the United States, they are regularly exposed to ableism, which is discrimination based on disability that can manifest as rude, abusive, or condescending behavior from people who are able-bodied. Over the years, the disability pride movement has grown worldwide and is designed to give those living with disabilities confidence in their identity and allow them to be included in their communities more fully.
Often characterized as helpless, pitiful people who need endless assistance, disabled individuals have worked hard to change the negative stereotypes associated with their disabilities. Under the ideals of disability pride, disabilities become integral to the individual and not a quality that has to be separated from the rest of the person.
After the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990, the first Disability Pride Day was held in Boston, MA. In 2004, the first Disability Pride Parade was held in Chicago, and celebrations are now held throughout the United States and across the globe.
Disability pride means equal rights and equal access to a given community’s resources. Disabled individuals can remain healthy with the right tools and information, but if their disability affects their ability to communicate, it can be more difficult to find health care providers who will be able to provide necessary services. People living with disabilities are also at higher risk of being abused or injured.
Assistive technologies can be utilized to help disabled individuals engage fully in life and at work. Special computers are designed to help those who would otherwise be unable to communicate, and everyday devices, such as wheelchairs and scooters, could mean the difference between isolation and a vibrant social life.
Despite the myriad ways passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act helped disabled workers, recent statistics from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics show much work remains to be done for true parity between disabled and able workers. From 2019 to 2020, fewer disabled people were employed, and across all age groups, those with disabilities were more likely to be unemployed than those without. Disabled individuals are also less likely to have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher than those living without a disability, and those with higher levels of education were more likely to be employed.