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Disability Pride vs. Awareness: Promoting Equality

Disability Pride vs. Awareness Promoting Equality

Wondering what the difference is between Disability Pride Month vs. Disability Awareness Month – and how to celebrate each? In this post, we’ll explore the significance behind these months and share ideas for employers to honor disability months at work.

Disability Pride Month in July celebrates people with disabilities and the disability community. Often, activities related to Disability Pride Month are fun in nature, while also sharing about the history, challenges, and triumphs of people with disabilities.

Additionally, National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October aims to confirm the U.S. Department of Labor’s “commitment to ensuring disabled workers have access to good jobs, every month of every year.”

Both month-long milestones are a chance to show your company’s support for the disability community through a variety of activities and initiatives. In fact, according to AmeriDisability, people with disabilities are “the largest and most diverse minority group within the population,” with up to 27% of adults in the U.S. having some type of disability.

Read on to learn how you can honor Disability Pride Month and Disability Awareness Month at work and create a more inclusive workplace for all!


In this post, you’ll find:

  • What is Disability Pride Month?
  • The difference between Disability Pride Month and Disability Awareness Month
  • When are Disability Pride Month and Disability Awareness Month celebrated?
  • Unique disability month virtual team experiences to grow your team’s knowledge and connections
  • Activities for employers looking to grow their DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) programs

Note: Some people and organizations, such as the National Institutes of Health, prefer to use “person-first language.” This means emphasizing the person first and foremost, then the disability. For instance: you might write “a person who is deaf” or “people with disabilities.” Other people and organizations, such as Disabled and Here, prefer “identity-first language.” This means emphasizing the disability first and foremost. For instance: “deaf person” or “disabled people.” Because preferences vary, we have opted to use both person-first and identity-first language throughout this post.


Embracing the Power of Disability Pride Month

Each year, Disability Pride Month is celebrated each July. That’s because the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990. The ADA provides legal protections for people with disabilities from discrimination.

For instance, the ADA provides a legal definition of a service animal. It also outlines the rights disabled people have related to their service animal. The ADA notes, “In situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, staff may ask only two specific questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability.”

Regulations like this aim to minimize unnecessary difficulties for disabled people when going about daily life. The ADA’s regulations cover everything from accessible parking and restrooms to employees’ accommodations, educational programs, housing rights, accessible public transit and public spaces, and more.

Because of the significance of the ADA, Disability Pride Month celebrations each July are also a significant milestone in the year. This holiday is a time for employers to honor disabled people who have made significant contributions to society and overcome discrimination that is, unfortunately, common. In fact, one study found that 40% of adults with disabilities “reported experiencing unfair treatment in health care settings, at work, or when applying for public benefits because of their disabilities or other personal characteristics in the previous year.”

Recognizing and embracing disability pride is one way employers can take a stand to promote inclusivity and equality. Read on to learn how!


Shining a Light on Disability Awareness Month

Man Using Sign Language in Office - Disability Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in October commemorates the contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces, employers, and overall economy. This holiday also raises awareness about the challenges and issues faced by people with disabilities.

While similar to Disability Pride Month in July, NDEAM in October is specifically focused on highlighting disability-related achievements and working to eliminate disability-related barriers in the workplace.

Especially if you are a federal government agency or contractor, honoring National Disability Employment Awareness Month is a powerful and important way to promoting understanding and empathy toward the disabled community. In turn, this can help your team become more interconnected, more educated about the disability community, and more willing to advocate for others in their workplace and community.


Challenges and Barriers Faced by the Disabled Community

People with disabilities continue to face challenges, often with their employer and in their daily lives. These challenges can include accessibility issues in public and private spaces, discrimination, and a lack of adequate support and affordable care.

As mentioned earlier in this post, one study found that in the last year, 4 in 10 adults with disabilities experienced “unfair treatment in health care settings, at work, or when applying for public benefits” due to their disabilities or other characteristics. Another report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shares that even though disabled people saw their highest rate of employment ever in 2022 (21%), the unemployment rate for disabled people was still twice as high as it was for people without a disability.

Additionally, the CDC shares that 1 in 4 adults with disabilities have an unmet healthcare need because of cost in the past year. The World Health Organization notes that worldwide, “Persons with disabilities have twice the risk of developing conditions such as depression, asthma, diabetes, stroke, obesity or poor oral health.”

Unfortunately, these barriers can hinder disabled people’s ability to fully participate in society. Simply put, our society and public spaces are often built with able-bodied people in mind, despite regulations that mandate accessible facilities. Working together, we can change this to identify obstacles and create a more inclusive society.

Disability-focused months help raise awareness, educate the public, and advocatefor systemic changes. Through events, campaigns, fundraising, and advocacy efforts, these months highlight the need for improved accessibility, equitable treatment, and comprehensive support. By participating in these months, employers can promote positive change and foster a more inclusive and just society.


Impact of Disability-Focused Months

Impact of Disability-Focused Months

Disability Pride Month and Disability Awareness Month can impact the disabled community and society by helping to foster a culture of inclusion, respect, and advocacy.

In July, Disability Pride Month empowers individuals by celebrating their identities and achievements. Events during this month can build a sense of solidarity and belonging among your team. In October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is a federal government initiative that highlights the contributions of people with disabilities in America’s workplaces and economy.

Together, these months can challenge perceptions by sharing about the capabilities and contributions of disabled individuals, promoting inclusivity, and advocating for the rights of people with disabilities.


Disability Pride Month vs. Disability Awareness Month: What’s the Difference?

When considering activities for Disability Pride Month vs. Disability Awareness Month, focus on the words “pride” vs. “awareness.” While “pride” typically refers to celebration and fun, “awareness” generally references educational initiatives.

Disability Pride Month in July focuses on celebrating the identities, achievements, and culture of disabled individuals, promoting self-acceptance, and building a sense of empowerment within the community. Activities during this month might also challenge stigmas and highlight the contributions of people with disabilities.

During Disability Pride Month, you might plan:

  • A film screening or book club to explore stories from the disability community.
  • To display the Disability Pride Flag at your office.
  • An inclusive talent show or art display.
  • Volunteer opportunities at a celebratory event serving people with disabilities, such as the Special Olympics.
  • To share success stories of people with disabilities on your company’s social media or other communications.
  • Partnerships with local disability advocacy groups or nonprofits.

Disability Awareness Month in October is led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). Its goal is to “celebrate the value and talent workers with disabilities add to America’s workplaces and economy.”

During Disability Awareness Month, an employer might host:

  • An engaging virtual event sharing about the history of the fight for disability rights.
  • Panel discussions featuring paid guest speakers from the disability community.
  • A lunch & learn series to share about disability and accessibility-related topics.
  • Volunteer opportunities to support nonprofits serving people with disabilities.
  • Educational workshops on inclusive language, accessible design practices, or other related topics.

Fortunately, there’s no need to choose between honoring Disability Pride Month vs. Disability Awareness Month! Both can help promote understanding, acceptance, and support for people with disabilities.


The Importance of Disability Pride

It’s one thing to simply exist as ourselves – it’s another to be boldly proud of who we are! Disability pride means promoting radical self-acceptance, as it encourages individuals to embrace their identities and recognize their inherent worth. By celebrating each person’s unique abilities and contributions – while also embracing accommodations that help people live their fullest lives – disability pride fosters confidence and resilience.

Embracing disability pride helps dismantle stereotypes and prejudices, promoting equality and inclusion. Moreover, it fosters a sense of community and solidarity among disabled individuals, providing mutual support and amplifying collective voices. Ultimately, disability pride contributes to a more inclusive and equitable society.

Remember: while some disabilities are visible, others are not. For instance, an employer may not be aware if a team member is on the Autism spectrum unless they disclose this information to you. In some cases, employees may choose to forego helpful accommodations because they are fearful of sharing their disability status. Disability pride helps everyone feel empowered to be their authentic self, so they can receive the support they need to thrive.


Promoting Disability Awareness

Blind Man Using Cane - Disability Awareness

A greater understanding of the types of disabilities people live with can help create a more inclusive and equitable world. In fact, disability awareness is crucial for educating the public, fostering empathy, creating accessible solutions, and advocating for the rights of people with disabilities.

For instance – did you know that 46% of Americans ages 75 and older report having a disability? Knowing this information can help policymakers determine that additional support for disability care may be needed within the senior community. Additionally, the most common types of disability in the U.S. involve difficulties with walking (7% of Americans), independent living (6% of Americans), and cognition (5% of Americans). This information can help paint a picture of what accommodations may be needed to support people living with disabilities.

In many cases, once people are aware of the obstacles disabled people face, they are more willing to advocate for and support solutions that help people with disabilities. Through education and advocacy, disability awareness helps create a more supportive, equitable, and accessible society where all individuals can thrive.


Disability Representation in Media and Society

Representation of people with disabilities in media – including in movies, television shows, art, and books – plays a critical role in shaping societal perceptions and attitudes. Accurate and positive portrayals of people with disabilities can challenge stereotypes, highlight the diverse experiences of disabled individuals, and foster empathy and understanding.

When disabled characters are depicted realistically in art and media – and as key members of the story – it helps to normalize disability and promote acceptance. This representation can empower disabled individuals, offering relatable role models and affirming their identity, while also educating the broader public about the realities and contributions of the disabled community.


Intersectionality and Disability

“Intersectionality” refers to how one identity can intersect with another to create a unique lived experience. For instance, the intersection of disability with other marginalized identities, such as race, gender, and sexuality, can create unique and compounded experiences of discrimination and inequality.

Individuals with intersecting identities often face multiple layers of bias and systemic barriers that affect their access to resources, opportunities, and support. Recognizing and addressing these challenges is crucial when it comes to fostering intersectional inclusivity as an employer.

This involves acknowledging the diverse needs within the disabled community, advocating for intersectional policies, and creating safe spaces where all individuals can express their identities and receive support.

To amplify your impact, celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month in June, followed by Disability Pride Month in July! Get started with our list of Pride Month quotes, browse activities for Pride month, and book a unique virtual Pride Month event for your team.


Disability Pride and Awareness in the Workplace

Disability pride and awareness in the workplace are vital for fostering an inclusive culture where employees with disabilities – and all employees – feel valued and respected. Employers can create inclusive and accessible work environments by implementing policies that ensure physical accessibility, such as ramps and adjustable workstations, providing assistive technologies, and offering flexible work arrangements and schedules, among other inclusive practices.

Additionally, conducting regular disability awareness training, establishing employee resource groups for disabled employees, and celebrating disability-related events can promote understanding and inclusion, ensuring that all employees have the opportunity to thrive.

Read more about disability inclusion on the CDC’s website.


Role of Allies in Supporting Disability Pride and Awareness

The Role of Allies in Supporting the Disability Community

Allies can play a critical role in supporting and advocating for the disabled community. By amplifying the voices of disabled people, promoting inclusion, and challenging ableism, allies can impact the lives of disabled colleagues, neighbors, and friends.

During Disability Pride Month and Disability Awareness Month, allies can attend, volunteer for, and promote events such as disability rights marches, accessibility workshops, and inclusive art performances and events. Allies can also post on social media to raise awareness, support organizations that serve disabled individuals, and advocate for policy changes that promote accessibility.

By taking these actions, allies can help create a more inclusive society that celebrates the contributions and rights of disabled individuals. Remember, a good place to start is by listening to the preferences, goals, and obstacles voiced by your disabled colleagues. As the saying in the disability community goes: “Nothing about us, without us!”


Celebrating Disability Pride and Empowerment: A Call to Action

In this post, we explored the difference between Disability Pride Month vs. Disability Awareness Month. We also shared ideas and best practices for how to honor each occasion with your team.

By recognizing disability months, an employer can demonstrate their commitment to inclusion and equity for all employees, stakeholders, and community members. We encourage you to advocate for these initiatives in your company as part of a year-round effort to create a more inclusive workplace.

Looking for more ideas? Explore our blog post on Ways to Celebrate Disability Month holidays at work.

Unexpected Virtual Tours and Training

For a unique team experience that entertains and educates, book the Disability Pride Virtual Tour from Unexpected Virtual Tours & Training! This hour-long experience is offered for a limited time only during October.


Learn more about Unexpected Virtual Tours & Training and book your team’s session! Fill out the form below, and a friendly member of our team will be in touch to answer your questions.