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Category: representation

Disability Pride Month Challenge

We’re nearly a week into July, but I’ve just found a great way to engage with Disability Pride Month. It’s not too late to join in! Visit Kelsey Lindell’s site to sign up for the challenge. She will email you a calendar of activities. These are things like listening to podcast episodes, watching the Crip Camp documentary, following disability activists, sharing information with friends and colleagues, etc. Below is information from her site.

Disabled people still don’t have our basic civil and human rights:

  • Due to a loophole in the law, there is no national minimum wage for disabled people. The average amount disabled people get paid is $3.34 an hour, versus the federal standard of $7.25.
  • 83% of disabled women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
  • Disabled women are twice as likely to be unemployed compared to nondisabled women.
  • People with intellectual disabilities are 7X more likely to be victims of sexual assault.
  • When a disabled person is unable to work, then the maximum disability benefit is $841 a month, which is a quarter below the federal poverty line.

This continues because most people don’t know this is happening. So, we’ve created a bootcamp for you. Each day you’ll get a prompt or call to action that will help you learn about ableism, disability history, disability justice and how to be a better ally. We’ll send you lists of amazing disabled creators to follow, podcasts to listen to, free events to attend, entertaining and educational clips and films to watch and so much more!

A charcoal grey flag with a diagonal band from the top left to bottom right corner, made up of five parallel stripes in red, gold, pale grey, blue, and green Description ends

Lastly, I’d like to share the Disability Pride Flag along with what the colors represent.

The Disability Pride Flag was a collaborative design effort by Ann Magill, a disabled woman, with feedback within the disabled community to refine its visual elements:

Having All Six “Standard” Flag Colors: signifying that Disability Community is pan-national, spanning borders between states and nations.

The Black Field: Mourning and rage for victims of ableist violence and abuse

The Diagonal Band: “Cutting across” the walls and barriers that separate the disabled from normate society, also light and creativity cutting through the darkness

The White Stripe: Invisible and Undiagnosed Disabilities

The Red Stripe: Physical Disabilities

The Gold Stripe: Neurodivergence

The Blue Stripe: Psychiatric Disabilities

The Green Stripe: Sensory Disabilities

Ann Magill, creator of the updated Disability Flag
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July is Disability Pride Month

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990. This was decades in the making. For those unfamiliar with the history, one great starting point is the 2020 documentary Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution. Growing up, I didn’t have any summer camp experiences (we were too poor). But I sent my son to a summer camp with an autism inclusion program. He wouldn’t have been able to attend otherwise. This program was in place thanks to the work of those who came before us. Disability Pride Month has been celebrated in July since 1990, along with the ADA victory. The disabled community isn’t a monolith. But members come together to support one another. Disability justice movements advocate for intersectional approaches to meet the needs of people with disabilities. The “nothing about us without us” mantra was born from this movement, expressing the conviction of people with disabilities that we know what is best for us.

Disability Pride Month looks to celebrate disability as an identity by sharing the experiences of the disabled community. The reason behind the month is a chance to share the joy and pride that disabled people can bring to their local and global communities. The disabled community is a vibrant part of society and makes up 15% of the population, and we are proud of that.

Caroline Casey for Forbes

This is the perfect time to remind folks about the anthology, Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century, edited by Alice Wong.

One in five people in the United States lives with a disability. Some disabilities are visible, others less apparent—but all are underrepresented in media and popular culture. Now, just in time for the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, activist Alice Wong brings together this urgent, galvanizing collection of contemporary essays by disabled people.

From Harriet McBryde Johnson’s account of her debate with Peter Singer over her own personhood to original pieces by authors like Keah Brown and Haben Girma; from blog posts, manifestos, and eulogies to Congressional testimonies, and beyond: this anthology gives a glimpse into the rich complexity of the disabled experience, highlighting the passions, talents, and everyday lives of this community. It invites readers to question their own understandings. It celebrates and documents disability culture in the now. It looks to the future and the past with hope and love.

Disability Visibility at Penguin Randomhouse

And Alice Wong is at it, again. This time with a memoir! I’ve pre-ordered my copy from my favorite local bookstore, Moon Palace. You can support local bookstores too!

Book cover for Year of the Tiger An Activist's Life by Alice Wong depicting a red tiger on a yellow background

This groundbreaking memoir offers a glimpse into an activist’s journey to finding and cultivating community and the continued fight for disability justice, from the founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project

In Chinese culture, the tiger is deeply revered for its confidence, passion, ambition, and ferocity. That same fighting spirit resides in Alice Wong.
Drawing on a collection of original essays, previously published work, conversations, graphics, photos, commissioned art by disabled and Asian American artists, and more, Alice uses her unique talent to share an impressionistic scrapbook of her life as an Asian American disabled activist, community organizer, media maker, and dreamer. From her love of food and pop culture to her unwavering commitment to dismantling systemic ableism, Alice shares her thoughts on creativity, access, power, care, the pandemic, mortality, and the future. As a self-described disabled oracle, Alice traces her origins, tells her story, and creates a space for disabled people to be in conversation with one another and the world. Filled with incisive wit, joy, and rage, Wong’s Year of the Tiger will galvanize readers with big cat energy.

Year of the Tiger at Penguin Randomhouse
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Hold My Bag

Growing up in the 70s and 80s, my childhood was chock full of microaggressions and microinvalidations. At school and at home. Most often related to my ethnicity, gender, intelligence, physical appearance, etc. Some classmates called me “Qaddafi’s daughter” for years, despite my family coming from a completely different country — Lebanon — a continent away from Libya. Often there were outright slurs too. Directed at me, but also bandied about so casually in day-to-day life and in pop culture. It’s appalling. I cringe when I attempt to rewatch many movies and television shows from my youth. We have come a long way but there is still so much work to do. We can and should strive to learn and grow. Which Lizzo has done recently and done well.

Following criticism that her new single, “Grrrls,” included the word spaz, Lizzo announced on Monday that she has released another version of the track with the offending lyric removed. “It’s been brought to my attention that there is a harmful word in my new song,” Lizzo wrote in a statement accompanying the rerelease. “Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language. As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I overstand the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally).”

Lizzo Releases a New Version of ‘Grrrls’
Photo of Lizzo by Arturo Holmes at the Met Gala

Nothing About Us Without Us

When situations like this come up, as they often do, I share one of my favorite resources.

What is self-defined?

A modern dictionary about us.
We define our words, but they don’t define us.

Self-Defined seeks to provide more inclusive, holistic, and fluid definitions to reflect the diverse perspectives of the modern world.

With the foundation of vocabulary, we can begin to understand lived experiences of people different than us. Words can provide us with a sense of identity and allow us to find kinship through common experiences.

Ableism and Implicit Bias

Unfortunately, ableism continues to go unaddressed in too many diversity initiatives. Kelsey Lindell has some excellent suggestions on how to avoid situations like these in the future:

  1. Take personal responsibility for your own growth
  2. Educate your teams  
  3. Hire Disabled People (For more information: It’s time for a culture shift where disability inclusion is concerned)

Read Kelsey’s entire post for more.

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Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2022

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. I first took part in 2015, at an incredible event in Copenhagen. Siteimprove collaborated with the Danish Association of the Blind (DAB) to arrange Denmark’s largest tandem bike ride.  The company purchased 100 tandem bikes. There were over 350 people in attendance. During the event, Siteimprove employees, members of the Danish community, and blind or partially sighted members of DAB rode for 3.5 kilometers through Amager Strandpark. Afterward, the bikes were donated to DAB. Former colleagues still see the bikes around Copenhagen occasionally. That was a wonderful example of physical accessibility. Since then, my work has centered around digital accessibility and each year I have celebrated GAAD in some way. For GAAD 2022, I have a different employer. At iCIMS, we are hosting our 6th annual GAAD event for employees. We are celebrating the power of accessibility with the delightful Sam Evans of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) as our keynote speaker. I’ve created a “scavenger hunt” for my new colleagues — multiple-choice questions based on the accessibility topics in the materials we are presenting. In-person and online events are happening around the world today. It has been great seeing the movement and practice grow but there is still so much work to do.

Sighted and blind or partially sighted people riding tandem bikes together for GAAD 2015 in Copenhagen, Denmark
My former colleague, Keith Bundy, wearing a t-shirt with the words Ask Me About A11y for GAAD 2018, while being interviewed by a reporter
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