Disability Pride Month is observed in July each year, and it is a time to celebrate and raise awareness about the rights and accomplishments of disabled people.
The history of Disability Pride Month traces back to the disability rights movement in the United States, which emerged in the 1970s. Disabled people faced widespread discrimination and exclusion from society, including limited access to public facilities, education and employment opportunities. They organized protests, demonstrations and advocacy efforts to demand equal rights and access for people with disabilities.
One of the significant milestones in the movement was the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. The ADA is a comprehensive civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It ensures equal opportunities and access to employment, public accommodations, transportation, telecommunications and government services for individuals with disabilities. When the ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990, Disability Pride Month was established to commemorate the event and to recognize the ongoing struggle for disability rights.
Healthcare workers play a crucial role in supporting disabled people and ensuring they receive equitable and inclusive care. Here are some considerations from Daphnie Frias, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to ambulate, from her GoodGoodGood blog on how to celebrate Disability Pride Month:
- Educate yourself on what ableism is and the ways in which people with disabilities face discrimination through systemic ableism, internalized prejudices and ableist microaggressions.
- Learn and promote Disability First language and understand how it differs from People First language. There is debate within the disabled community about whether phrases such as “disabled people” and “people with disabilities” are best suited to reflect identity.
- Diversify your reading and social feeds by discovering voices of disabled creators through books, podcasts, Tiktoks and activism.
- Frias has a list of her 42 best books on disabilities.
- Disabled freelance writer Andrew Pulrang has a list of disability podcasts in Forbes.
- Think Inclusive has a list of 6 disabled activists to follow on Instagram, and Mashable has a similar list of activists, educators and influencers.
- Understand disability inclusivity in the workplace with help from data on employment equality from the National Organization on Disability (NOD).
Additionally, other resources help healthcare workers understand elements of the ADA and other federal requirements for ensuring effective communications with disabled people, including MGMA’s member resource, “Access to Care for Patients Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.”
As you observe Disability Pride Month, keep these six principles in mind:
- Sensitivity and respect: It's essential to treat all disabled patients with respect, dignity and sensitivity. Avoid making assumptions about their abilities or limitations, and always ask patients how you can best support them during their medical visit.
- Communication and accessibility: Healthcare facilities should prioritize accessibility for all patients. Ensure that communication methods (such as sign language interpreters or written materials) are available to accommodate different communication needs. The physical environment should also be accessible to patients with mobility challenges.
- Inclusive care: Healthcare workers should be prepared to provide inclusive care for disabled patients. This includes understanding disability-related terminology, being aware of potential barriers to care and knowing how to assist disabled patients during medical examinations and procedures.
- Listening and empathy: Disabled patients may face unique challenges and experiences related to their health conditions or have concerns about interacting with providers due to poor past experiences with individuals who did not offer culturally competent care. Listening to their concerns, being empathetic and involving them in their treatment decisions can help build trust and improve patient outcomes.
- Empowerment: Encourage self-advocacy among disabled patients. Support their right to make decisions about their healthcare and empower them to communicate their needs effectively.
- Recognize strengths and accomplishments: Disability Pride Month is a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of disabled individuals. Healthcare workers can acknowledge these accomplishments and focus on patients' strengths rather than just their medical conditions.
By incorporating these principles into their practice, healthcare workers can contribute to a more inclusive and supportive healthcare environment for disabled people. It's essential to continue learning and adapting to the diverse needs of all patients to ensure they receive the best possible care.
- “Battling Bias: Building diversity in recruiting and hiring” provides an outline of major regulatory issues regarding diversity and ADA compliance.