July is Disability Pride Month, representing an opportunity to highlight how essential disabilities are to the disabled community, while simultaneously acknowledging their strength and validity. As a historically marginalized community, those with disabilities deserve an increase in awareness of their concerns, especially those with intersectionalities. This month and every month, NGLCC stands in solidarity with our trusted partners at Disability:IN and others as a dedicated ally to the disability community, and invites you to join us in our closing celebration of Disability Pride.
Disabilities can be physical, intellectual, and mental, and are not necessarily visible to the naked eye. Keeping an open mind to different variations of disabilities is essential in respecting the disabled community and its individuals, just as is true for any group of persons. The same attention and fluidity awarded to the queer community during June should be applied throughout July to the disabled community – as well as year-round. As with many minority groups, acceptance and equality are two important issues included in their agenda, and working towards these are central to both the LGBTQ and disabled communities.
The tactics for respecting and welcoming those with disabilities mirror the best practices we regularly share in interacting with LGBTQ folks. People with disabilities typically do not wish to discuss their disabilities with strangers or non-intimate persons, so asking questions without being invited to do so is often unwelcome. A good rule of thumb to adhere to is simply treating disabled people as you would any other person, allowing them to determine the level of discussion you might have surrounding disabilities.
Disability inclusion is also crucial to any hiring process. Companies that aren’t proactive about disability inclusion are losing out on qualified talent, as well as reducing their applicant pool. If candidates face barriers during the application and interview process, or if they sense that a business is not inclusive, they are likely to look elsewhere. Companies with strong disability inclusion programs have increased access to talent and better employee retention. They have the tools they need to help their workplaces remain accessible and for employees to thrive. Beyond the hiring process, businesses should look to improve their accommodations available to employees, as well as the overall work environment and attitude towards disability issues and intersectional groups.
Barbara Kingsolver, novelist and essayist, wrote of one of her characters, “The arrogance of the able-bodied is staggering. Yes, maybe we’d like to be able to get places quickly, and carry things in both hands, but only because we have to keep up with the rest of you. We would rather be just like us, and have that be all right.”
Abled bodied and minded people need to realize that there is no desire within the disabled community to become more “normal,” only more accepted and valued as they are. Everyone experiences life differently and should not be made to feel ugly or useless because of it. People with disabilities are beautiful and brilliant, and their amazing capabilities should be the focus of pride during this month. NGLCC would like to thank each and every ally to disabled community, and urge you to educate yourselves consistently about disability and accessibility issues. Happy Disability Pride Month!
For more resources about disability equity in the workplace, please visit our dedicated partner Disability:IN.