By: Lebohang Maluke

Maseru – Disability Pride Month is observed on July 26th to commemorate the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The purpose of the month is to increase visibility and raise awareness of the positive sense of pride experienced by individuals with disabilities.

Disability pride month honours the history, achievements, experiences and struggles of those within the disability community, and takes place every July to mark the anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act which broke down barriers to inclusion in 1990.

Mayor Katjana Ballantyne and the Somerville Commission for Persons with Disabilities (SCPD) will be hosting a variety of events in July to acknowledge and honour Disability Pride Month. \

During this month-long event, there will be a mix of activities planned to promote understanding, honour the achievements of people with disabilities, and encourage unity within the community. People with disabilities deserve to live full, self-determined lives, just like everyone else.

Many people with disabilities may not be familiar with the idea of pride. Society has frequently caused them to feel inferior or embarrassed about their disabled identities, continuing a feeling of “otherness.”

Requiring special services or accommodations may lead to feeling shame within oneself. On the other hand, the social model of disability disagrees with this view, stating that it is the obstacles and lack of access in society that hinder individuals, rather than their natural characteristics. By breaking down these obstacles and promoting inclusiveness, people with disabilities can regain their self-esteem and acknowledge their distinct impact on society.

Recognition and Awareness contributions to people with disabilities and raising awareness about their experiences help to break down stigma and foster a more inclusive society.

One of the most powerful aspects of celebrating Disability Pride Month is the way it shifts the focus from disability as a limitation to disability as a source of pride, strength, and diversity.

By recognizing and celebrating the accomplishments and contributions of people with disabilities, we can challenge societal assumptions about disability and promote greater acceptance and understanding. This, in turn, can help create a more inclusive and equitable society where people with disabilities have equal opportunities to participate in all aspects of life.

Cultural Shift while celebrating disability pride challenges negative attitudes towards disability and promotes a more positive, respectful, and supportive environment. Shifting cultural attitudes towards disability is a critical part of promoting disability pride. Negative attitudes and stigma can have a significant impact on the self-esteem and well-being of people with disabilities, and they can also contribute to discrimination and exclusion.

By promoting disability pride, we can challenge these negative attitudes and create a more accepting and affirming environment for people with disabilities. This can include promoting positive media representations, supporting disability-owned businesses, and creating opportunities for people with disabilities to share their stories and experiences.

Solidarity and support for people with disabilities during this month is a way to signal that their experiences and perspectives are valued and respected. Solidarity is a powerful way to show support and build community. When people come together in solidarity during Disability Pride Month, they send a strong message that people with disabilities are valued members of society.

This can be especially important for people with disabilities who may have faced discrimination or exclusion in the past. Solidarity provides a sense of belonging and community, and it can help combat feelings of isolation or marginalization.

Even simple acts of solidarity, such as sharing a social media post or attending an event, can make a big difference in promoting disability pride and inclusion.

Ally-ship: Actively engaging with disability pride and promoting disability rights and accessibility can help foster greater understanding and empathy among the wider community.

Ally-ship is a crucial part of promoting disability pride and creating a more inclusive society. By actively engaging with disability pride and advocating for disability rights and accessibility, allies can amplify the voices of people with disabilities and help break down barriers to full inclusion.

As an ally, use privilege and platform to advocate for systemic changes that support people with disabilities. This can include advocating for more inclusive education, accessible public spaces, and employment opportunities. Ally-ship also involves educating yourself about disability issues and being open to feedback from people with disabilities.

Celebrating disability pride promotes inclusion and ensures that people with disabilities are represented and welcomed in all aspects of society, from education to employment to public spaces.

Celebrating disability pride month recognises the unique contribution and experience of people with disability by raising awareness, promoting and breaking down barriers that build society that values and embrace the diversity of people.