Celebrating Disability Pride Month

"The fact that I am blind is not what defines my life. It should be of no more interest than my blood type. People wonder if there is a relationship between my lack of sight and the way I sing. But there's no connection."
– Andrea Bocelli

July is Disability Pride Month and this year, we’re celebrating 34 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed, on July 26, 1990. Thanks to the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to state and local government programs and services is prohibited (U.S. Department of Labor). According to the National Archives, this “was the world's first comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities.” 

The passing of the ADA is worth celebrating, and this July, we encourage you to go beyond celebrating the law and celebrate the people. 

Celebrate All Abilities

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart."
– Helen Keller

Disability Pride Month is a time to celebrate. Our differences are what make us special and instead of meeting someone with judgment or pity, recognize that our differing abilities can be celebrated. Respect individuals and remember that there is not only one right way to respond because each experience is deeply rooted in personal experiences. When in doubt, just listen. It’s a wonderful way to learn about the human experiences of others and a great way to be an ally. 

Person-First and Identity-First Language

“Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn’t mean he lacks vision.”
– Stevie Wonder

We are all born with certain abilities, strengths, weaknesses, skills, and capacities and we can choose to define ourselves by those abilities, or not. Disability Pride Month is a great time to refresh your “person-first language” and your “identity-first language” to properly address someone after asking them how they identify. If you’re interested in learning more, check out Writing Respectfully: Person-First and Identity-First Language, an article by the National Institute of Health that goes in-depth about “person-first language” and “identity-first language.” 

Be an Ally

“Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt

This July, try slowing down and challenge your own thoughts and attitude about people with disabilities. Where did those thoughts come from? How can you frame your thinking to be respectful, welcoming, or joyful? How can you be an ally? Look at the media around you and notice if it’s lacking diversity. Do you read books, or watch movies or TV shows written by people with disabilities? Remember that disabilities are not always visible. Then, after reviewing your inner judgments, see how the world can be a better place that celebrates disabilities. What can you do to help your community? Be an ally by voting, lobbying, donating your time or money to causes that will help celebrate and uplift those in our communities who identify as having a disability. 

Accessible Library Resources

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” – Christopher Reeve

If you are in need of accessible library resources, or know someone who is, check out the various accommodations available at Marin County Free Library.  We offer assistance for people with limited mobility, such as automatic door openers at entrances and designated accessible parking spaces in parking lots. For people with low or limited vision, we have an array large print books, both fiction and nonfiction, eBooks that can be read aloud by a device on a smart phone, and handheld magnifier is available at the reference desks for use in the library. For people with low or limited hearing, your library card will give you access to Kanopy and Hoopla, streaming services that offer closed captioning where available. 

Lastly be sure to utilize services at the library like Library Beyond Walls, which offers free delivery of library materials by mail, for Marin County residents who are unable to visit our libraries in person due to a temporary or permanent disability. Speak to staff for catalog assistance: Library staff will check the online catalog, check the shelves, and place holds for individuals whenever the library is open. Or let us know that you need physical assistance: Staff will retrieve materials anywhere in the building. Just ask!

Contributed by Daniela Leyva