It’s Disability Pride Month so why is nobody talking about it?
I explain how and why we need to be more inclusive to Disabled people.
July is Disability Pride Month. A month to celebrate all Disabled people regardless of gender or sexuality. Disability Pride is for all Disabled people and even has its own flag designed by Ann Magill. The reason it takes place in July is because the American Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 so the month coexists with that. It is a worldwide event that happens every year in July.
But why do Disabled people need a pride month? The simple answer is: we don’t have equal rights.
Disabled people in the UK (and around the world – however I am talking about my experience here) are more likely to be in poverty and have issues with accessing housing, work or funding, healthcare, education, self care, carers. The list is endless. In fact, it costs on average £500 more a month to be Disabled.
I speak from experience. I am a 25-year-old Disabled person, I am a wheelchair user and I have various health issues which impact me every day. Let me tell you it is expensive. One of the worst things for me about living in a world only made for non disabled people is I can’t get into most of the shops in my local area because they are simply not accessible. This isn’t rare either, I’d go so far as to say most places are not accessible for me. So, until Disabled people have equal rights, we are going to need Disability Pride.
But if you are non disabled or a brand, why is it important to talk about Disability Pride Month? Well, for starters, it’s important because a LOT of people are Disabled – the estimate is around 14.6 million in the UK alone. That is one of the biggest minority groups. It is also a group that anyone could become a part of at any time. Yes that’s right, anyone could become Disabled at any second of their lives, and many will!
As our age increases, unfortunately for many our health may decline. So when we don’t talk and learn about these things, it means we are leaving out a large group of people and shows we are not educated on the topic. A topic that could directly impact us at any moment. That isn’t to ‘scare’ anyone into caring about Disability rights. It’s just a simple fact, but as a society we often hide disability away. It’s something to be scared of, ashamed of, a ‘negative’ but that isn’t the case. It is simply neutral. Disabled people have always existed and will always exist. So rather than shaming us for our existence, we should love and embrace the community and show that Disabled people exist too.
Many brands don’t talk about Disability. We don’t see many Disabled models, actors or presenters and we are often pushed out of the spotlight. But Disabled people are wonderful and, speaking from experience, we are pretty cool too. Disabled people want to support companies, events, shows and more but so often we are not given accessibility or feel we are not represented by brands. This is only highlighted further when companies don’t mention us at all during Disability Pride. The silence feels empty, as if Disabled people are not valued consumers.
This is made evident from inaccessible shops and the lack of inclusion – which aside from everything else is a terrible business model (please be aware the reason for supporting and including Disabled people in business should not amount to money, however I am aware that money exists and is important when it comes to business so here we go…).
The Purple Pound is the spending power of Disabled households and is over £249 billion in the UK alone. That is a lot of money. Keeping us out of your business model is not only discrimination, it’s also losing you a lot of pennies! Access and inclusion helps everyone! Not just Disabled people. The more accessible and inclusive you make your business the more people will want to shop and support your company.
Disability Pride is the perfect time for brands to be showing their support for Disabled people, paying Disabled content creators, donating to charities and publicly saying that you support the community.
Question yourself: how accessible is your business? How could it be improved? Could you pay for an accessibility consultant to make it better?
Remember, this isn’t just about words or a simple Instagram post. It is about making your brand more inclusive, about championing Disabled voices and being pioneers in a vital movement. It is about listening to a mix of Disabled voices and educating yourself on a topic.
Always remember to pay your Disabled employees and creators fairly because we have high overheads and it’s hard to get work out here.
Happy Disability Pride Month.
Find out more about Eliza and the work they do here.