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U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Blog: Reflections on Disability Pride Month from Disabled Students Across the Country

July is Disability Pride Month, and in celebration, the Office of Special Education Programs will highlight work being done in the field of special education and voices that celebrate disability pride and promotes positive disability identity for students.

View the original post on the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Blog.

Did you know that July is Disability Pride Month?

July 26 marks the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which became law in 1990. Because this ground-breaking legislation was signed in July, disability advocates around the country established July as Disability Pride Month.

Over the past 33 years there have been various Disability Pride celebrations across the country, with Boston boasting the very first Disability Pride Day in 1990 and Chicago hosting the first Disability Pride Parade in 2004.

This Disability Pride Month, disabled students from across the U.S. shared with me what Disability Pride Month means to them and why it is important that their school celebrates Disability Pride Month.

While their responses naturally varied, all students agreed there is great value in celebrating Disability Pride Month.

For some, Disability Pride Month is an opportunity to outwardly acknowledge and celebrate disability. A disabled university student noted:

Disability Pride Month is important to me to encourage the visibility of disability as a natural part of the human experience and as an opportunity to celebrate the community and organize action.

For others, Disability Pride Month is about reflecting on one’s own beliefs and thoughts around disability. A student at San Jose State University in California shared:

The month is important to me because disabilities are so stigmatized still. I struggle with internalized shame. I struggle with feeling like I won’t be accepted by employers, professors, acquaintances [and] sometimes even friends. Disability Pride Month helps me be less ashamed of my disabilities. It helps me accept and love myself more.

Similarly, another disabled student spoke to the significance of Disability Pride Month on their personal beliefs about their self:

Disability Pride Month is important to me because it feels like a time where I can be proud of myself and how far I’ve come despite all the challenges I’ve faced.

While many schools around the country are acknowledging or celebrating Disability Pride Month, such as the University of South Florida and the University of Tennessee, the majority are not.

Although their school isn’t celebrating Disability Pride Month this year, another disabled university student in California has hope for the future:

Recognizing Disability Pride Month will hopefully decrease stigma and grow support and community for disabled students and staff.

To close out, we’re going to leave you with a few questions to reflect on:

  • What does Disability Pride Month mean to you?
  • What does your school or place of work do to celebrate Disability Pride Month?
  • How do you plan to acknowledge and celebrate Disability Pride Month?

Emily Frake is in a joint doctoral program in special education at Cal State University, Los Angeles, and the University of California, Los Angeles. This summer, she is interning at OSEP in the Research to Practice Division.