July is disability pride (or awareness) month, which many have not heard of. It started in the USA in 1990 “to listen to what the voices of disabled people have to say about their rights and what they need”.  

It has since grown and reached people all over the world, giving all disabled people, despite the fact that each disability is very different, a sense of community and support as they try to break down barriers. 

There are a lot of misconceptions about disability. Over 1 billion people live with some form of disability. In the UK, over 20% of people have some form of disability. 

People see disabilities as solely a bad thing and think disabled people should be pitied but many people see their disabilities as something that is just a part of them and maybe as a strength rather than a weakness. That is why we now have disability pride month to raise awareness on disability and celebrate disabled people. 

A lot of people think a disabled person is someone who uses a wheelchair and doesn’t have use of their legs but disabilities come in many forms. Some people only need to use their wheelchairs or other mobility aids some of the time, this means they are an ambulatory wheelchair user, not someone who is “faking” or “just lazy”.

 Most wheelchair users are somewhat ambulatory. Did you know chronic health conditions are considered disabilities? Did you know mental illnesses are also considered disabilities? This does not mean you have to identify as disabled but you do fit under the government definition of disability which protects you from discrimination and can help you access support.

“You’re disabled under the UK Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.” 

The disability community is growing online and with it, so is disability pride and acceptance of disabled bodies. I’ve personally learnt a lot about myself as a disabled person by being in positive online spaces for people with disabilities similar to mine. 

I feel more confident saying the term “disabled” to describe my health issues and I feel more comfortable using a mobility aid or helpful device when I need to. This is what disability pride is about to me, self love, acceptance and not being afraid or ashamed of being open about my disability or how much it impacts my life.

If you want to share your story or thoughts on disability pride month contact LucyThomas@platfform.org