For a long time people with disabilities have been shut out, rejected and neglected. This has caused many to feel ashamed and not to be able as others. But, many of us are taking a stand to ensure that they feel seen and their voices are heard. Disability Pride month celebrates and embraces disabled persons to view their disabilities as a positive force. And honestly, there’s nothing better than a person having a disability and owning it.
Disability pride month consists of various activities including parades, educational and artistic events, big and small community celebrations and more. However, it takes on its full meaning when it sparks more than a conversation — but also a way of living.
In response to negative views of disability, and to promote human rights, in this article we stand in solidarity with these wonderfully made individuals and shed some light on disability pride. Our hope is to promote positive takes on people with disabilities: they adapt, they endure, they’re optimistic and they are resilient, indeed.
What is Disability Pride Month and How Did It Start?
It all started in the early 90s when George Bush passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). What was the goal? To prevent discrimination against those with disability. It’s all thanks to this law that accessibility barriers are being removed from public establishments including shopping malls, public transportation museum subways, airports and many others. The ADA also requires web accessibility and advocates for the employment of disabled persons.
Being inspired to enhance visibility of individuals with disabilities, Boston held its first Disability Pride Day in 1990, causing a number of other cities to follow suit including New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and others. However, the event wasn’t recognized on a national level. It took until July 2015, for the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio to establish disability pride month.
“By designating July as Disability Pride Month, we are celebrating and commending the fierce advocacy of those who have fought for equal rights for decades and reaffirming our strong commitment to making New York City the most accessible city in the world”, says Blasio.
This was a huge step forward not only for disabled persons, but all of humanity. During this glorious month, the visibility created has brought many communities together, with people from all walks of life who can share their experiences with one another. It also has helped raise awareness on disability — people who aren’t directly affected by disability, but who would like to learn more.
How has Cannabis Helped Disabled Persons?
Cannabis has been used for thousands of years. However it wasn’t until the late 1930s that the plant was prohibited for sale in consumption in the United States. This caused not only a halt in scientific research and cruel demonization of a humble plant, but also left many out from experiencing its therapeutic value — which has been incredibly unfortunate, especially those with a disability.
Fortunately, much has changed. With more than one million people legally consuming cannabis, the federal government has caught up with the rest of America. And, as public acceptance and legalization continues to spread, we are seeing more and more positive changes among the horizon for cannabis.
There is a growing mountain of evidence that cannabis can indeed relieve the symptoms of all these conditions and this includes disability related illnesses. There are many types of disabilities, such as those that affect a person’s:
Everyone, disabled or not, has an endocannabinoid system (ECS). While more research is needed, current scientists believe that the ECS regulates a number of cognitive and physiological processes that can affect important bodily functions in a way that could help manage a number of disabilities. This includes autism, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, down’s syndrome, and many others.
With more scientific discovery and medical breakthroughs being made daily in cannabis, we are hopeful to see a future that will provide better access to cannabis to help those who need it.
Ways you can Advocate, Educate and Celebrate
It’s essential to acknowledge, be inclusive and raise awareness about the disabled community so they will feel seen, heard, and included. Below are some ways to do just that!
Walk in a Disability Pride Parade
Support your disabled friends and family members by joining them for parade activities. The Disability Pride Parade Association in Chicago will be holding its annual parade on July 23rd — don’t miss
Get educated on ableism
AccessLiving.org defines ableism as: “The discrimination of and social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior. At its heart, ableism is rooted in the assumption that disabled people require ‘fixing’ and defines people by their disability.” Even those with the best intentions can have ablest attitudes so it’s important to learn more so you can avoid hurting or offending anyone.
Advocate for inclusion
Whether you’re a member of the arts, religious, civic or business organization it’s important to make sure that all spaces and events are accessible and inclusive. This includes wheelchair access; sign language interpreters, providing assistive listening devices and clear disability accommodations are fully explained on all platforms, websites and marketing materials.
Be mindful of your language
Avoid using offensive language towards disabled people. Words such as “suffering from”, “wheelchair bound”, and evenworse, “dumb”, “lame”, or “stupid” are incredibly disrespectful and damaging. To avoid doing this, exercise love and caution and also check
the ADA National Network’s guide on disability language — it’s also not a bad idea to ask individuals what they prefer to be called, when in doubt.
A person with disability taking pride in their whole self, which includes their disability, means they understand their limitations, but accept and love who they are. And we should accept and love them too.
No doubt, advocating for the rights of disabled persons is an everyday battle, but having a month dedicated to them is one great victory, alone — after all, there lives 1 billion people with disabilities across the globe. Therefore, as human beings living in this world together, wouldn’t it be amazing to be more empathetic and comprehensive towards the issues some (a lot) of us face day to day?