BEHAVIOUR

Disability Pride Month: When, how and why should we celebrate it

Contents

  1. What is Disability Pride? 
  2. What are the different types of disabilities?
  3. What does the  Disability Pride Flag look like?
  4. When is the Disability Pride Month? When did it start?
  5. History of Disability Pride: A long way for equality
  6. Reality of disabled students in schools: What should we change?

 

Nowadays, if you want to reach out to someone you are much more likely to send them a text message than call them. Did you know that SMS (the original text) was invented so that deaf people could communicate using a phone? This is just one of the many brilliant examples of how an inclusive society which works to build equality between people benefits all of society. 

Have a read through our article on Disability Pride Month – why you should know about it, why you should care about it, and why you should talk about it with your kids. 

 

What is disability pride? 

 

While some people are actively pushed out of societies because of who they are, others are ignored and overlooked. We have groups of people who are actively excluded and groups of people who are passively excluded. Active exclusion means that a society has intentionally, and often maliciously, oppressed and excluded a group of people. Passive exclusion can often mean that even though there were no bad intentions, people are still oppressed and excluded from society. 

Historically, the LGBTQI+ community has been actively excluded and, sadly, still is in many communities. 

The disabled communities of the world are, nowadays, usually treated with more tolerance than the LGBTQI+ communities; however, a society constructed for people who are able-bodied and able-minded will always exclude members of the disabled community. 

Disability pride is a movement where people living with a disability, and people supporting someone living with a disability, can actively and proudly declare:  we are not invisible, we will not be overlooked; we will not be treated differently and marginalised. 

People with a disability are a natural part of human diversity, and need to be better embraced as full members of society with equal access and opportunities. 

According to the Disability Pride Parade organisers, the aim of the movement is: 

  • To change the way people think about and define “disability”
  • To break down and end the internalised shame among people with disabilities
  • To promote the belief in society that disability is a natural and beautiful part of human diversity in which people living with disabilities can take pride

 

What are the different types of disabilities?

 

According to the UK government: “You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.”

  • ‘substantial’ is more than minor or trivial, eg it takes much longer than it usually would to complete a daily task like getting dressed
  • ‘long-term’ means 12 months or more, eg a breathing condition that develops as a result of a lung infection

‘Disability’ can be diverse and multi-faceted. Some people have visible disabilities (this means that their disability can be seen), and some people have a hidden disability (this means that their disability might not be immediately obvious). For example, someone who uses a wheelchair has a ‘visible disability’, whereas ADHD is often considered to be a ‘hidden disability’. 

There are different types of disabilities and some people find it helpful to group them into these categories: 

  • Physical disability 
  • Mental health condition 
  • Sensory difference 
  • Learning disability 

Physical disability 

A physical disability (also called a physical difference) refers to a person who has limited physical capacity and/or mobility. 

The Paralympics is an example of an event which is designed to celebrate athletes with physical differences. 🧑‍🦽

Physical differences can be caused by genetic disorders, serious illnesses, or injury. 

A physical disability can be either permanent or temporary and can affect one or more parts of the body. 

Mental health condition 

A mental health condition is considered to be a disability under the UK’s Equality Act 2010

Five common mental health conditions are: 

These health conditions might not be immediately visible and are therefore considered to be ‘hidden disabilities’. Despite the fact that they are not physical, they can be just as debilitating as physical differences, and need to be treated with the same level of severity. 

You can read our GoStudent article about mental health support for young people

If you need mental health support, you can find links to free resources on the NHS website. If you are facing a mental health emergency, you should dial 999 or go to A&E. The same should be done if you know of someone who is facing a mental health emergency. 

Sensory difference 

Sensory differences (sometimes called sensory disabilities) are conditions that affect a person's senses. This means that a person is either over – or under –  sensitive with their: sight, touch, smell, taste of hearing. 

People who are fully or partially blind or deaf count as having a sensory disability. Sensory disabilities can make it difficult or impossible to complete day to day tasks. 

Learning disability 

A learning disability is defined as a reduced intellectual ability which impacts a person’s ability to function day to day. This would include some (but not all) people with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Profound and multiple learning disability (PMLD) is when a person has severe learning disabilities which can affect their ability to communicate or be independent. 

There is also what is called a learning difference (also sometimes called a learning difficulty), which is when a person has problems with certain abilities used for learning: for example, reading and writing. This will include: 

If you would like more information, you can read our article about learning difficulties in children or about the best apps for children with learning disabilities

 

What does the Disability Pride Flag look like?

 

The disability pride flag is a blue, yellow, green and red-striped lightning bolt on a black flag. Each colour is symbolic for part of the disability pride movement. 

The black field (which acts as the base colour of the flag) represents the many disabled people who have lost their lives – not only because of their illness but also through abuse, eugenics, suicide and negligence. 

The lightning bolt, a jagged shape, represents the difficult and non-lateral lives that many disabled people live, often having to change or adapt themselves or their physical routes to get around an inaccessible society.

The colours of the lightening bolt each symbolise one of the four areas of disability:

  • The blue symbolises mental illness 
  • The yellow symbolises cognitive and intellectual disabilities (sometimes called a learning disability or learning difference
  • The green represents sensory difference 
  • The red symbolises physical disability 

 

When is the Disability Pride Month? When did it start?

 

July is Disability Pride Month. The movement started in Boston, MA in 1990 and, since then, has become an international movement which has embolden pride in people with disabilities and raised awareness among the wider communities. 

Sometimes cities or towns have a disability pride parade to have a physical gathering to celebrate as a community. 

 

History of Disability Pride: A long way for equality

 

It is often shocking to many people that disability pride was not an official event until as late as 1990. Throughout history, disabled people have faced atrocities, and persecution. Religions taught that people with disabilities were evil, and communities cast them out and murdered them, simply because they could not understand them. 

While the world has progressed so much in the past few centuries, our acceptance of people with disabilities is still in progress with lots of change still needed. 

In 2021, at COP26 in Glasgow, an Israeli minister was unable to attend the conference because the venue was not wheel-chair accessible. The minister waited outside the venue in Glasgow for two hours, and she was eventually forced to return to her hotel in the Scottish capital Edinburgh: 80km away. 

If this happened in an official UN event in the UK, you can imagine how common it must be all over the world. This is just one example of a society failing to be inclusive to people living with a disability. 

 

Reality of disabled students in schools: What should we change?

 

Schools in Britain are legally obligated to be inclusive places with the expectation that reasonable adjustments should be made to accommodate people with a disability. 

All schools and universities will have a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO). The SENCO’s job is to make reasonable adjustments in the school to make sure that students with a disability have the same access to learning as their peers and can complete their exams in a fair and equal way. 

As well as physical inclusion, the SENCO is also responsible for supporting pupils with mental, sensory and learning differences. This might mean extra time in exams for pupils with dyslexia, or it might mean a special room with dimmer lights for a pupil with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Sadly, support for pupils with special educational needs is often underfunded and overlooked. There are many schools where, when a teacher has identified a  barrier to learning, they don’t have the funds or capacity to assess pupils to check whether they have a hidden learning disability. 

Some children with disabilities struggle to make friends in school or complete their homework. If you think your child’s disability is affecting their learning, you should contact their form tutor – or someone else in their school – and arrange a meeting to discuss access arrangements. 

Many pupils with special educational needs often benefit from extra one-to-one tutoring to keep up to reach their potential. 

Disability Pride Month is an opportunity to celebrate all the wonderful things which people with disabilities have given the world, but also to reflect on the way the world has treated – and is treating – people living with a disability. 

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