Celebrated each year in July (to honor the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990), Disability Pride Month celebrates people with disabilities, honors their contributions and achievements, reflects on their struggles for justice, and seeks to educate about culture, identity, and the meaning of “disability.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 13% of the American population, or nearly 42.5 million people, have some type of disability. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports several key statistics on people with disabilities in the workforce:
- 3% of people with disabilities were employed in 2022, compared to 65.4% of those without disabilities.
- Half of the population with disabilities falls into the 65+ age range.
- The unemployment rate for persons with a disability was about twice as high as the rate for persons without a disability.
- 30% of workers with a disability were employed part-time, compared with 16% among those without a disability.
- People with disabilities are more likely to be self-employed than those without disabilities.
Despite the decades of the ADA and ongoing advocacy to raise awareness and change, people with disabilities still face significant hurdles in their pursuit of fairness, adequate and accurate healthcare, and employment. Bureaucratic complications can frustrate many, with loopholes that can make it harder than it ever should be to be for individuals to live life on their terms and with dignity.
Disability Pride Month is about shining a spotlight on these issues – but it’s also about pride in diversity and what makes them special. For many disability advocates, the idea of Disability Pride is meant to counter a culture that stigmatizes disability, hides it away, or sees it solely as something to be “fixed.” Instead, it’s about celebrating diversity and intrinsic worth, breaking barriers, and shattering stereotypes about what it means to have a disability.
It also marks an excellent opportunity for organizations of shapes and sizes to re-evaluate their commitment to inclusivity, particularly as it relates to disability rights and inclusion. We can take this time to have more dialogues, gain insights firsthand, and figure out the most effective ways to implement policies that open doors to people with a wide range of disabilities.
The community is enormous and varied, and there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” policy. If anything, the best organizations are the ones that build flexibility and creativity into their culture and policies from the get-go. However, a few questions might at least be able to get the ball rolling if your team is looking to check your inclusivity, such as:
- How physically accessible is your physical location? Do things like walkways, multiple levels, restrooms, and doors take into account people who might use mobility aids?
- Are your team-building activities accessible, or could they potentially exclude people with certain conditions or disabilities?
- Are visual aspects of your workplace (i.e., computers, signage, presentations) designed with accessibility features in mind for the visually-impaired? Likewise, how is your organization and location set up to ensure that individuals with hearing-related disabilities can be fully included?
- Does your organization consider both physical and intellectual disabilities when crafting policies and so on?
- Is your HR team well-trained and up-to-date on legal requirements, discrimination information, and so on? Are there protocols in place to ensure any violations are handled appropriately? Are there trainings for all staff to minimize discrimination, microaggressions, or other negativity?
- How does your team gather, listen to, and incorporate feedback from people with disabilities?
At Blue Rock Search, we celebrate vibrancy and diversity at all times. This month, we’re proud to honor Disability Pride Month, and we hope you’ll join us in advocating for ongoing improvements, justice, and inclusion.
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