Commemorating Disability Pride Month

More than one billion people around the world live with some form of a disability. For over three decades, July has been observed as Disability Pride Month, coinciding with the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Tomorrow is the 32nd anniversary of the ADA, and I wanted to share some thoughts on how the ADA – and disability pride - is important for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients. 

The ADA protects qualified individuals with disabilities, like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, from discrimination with respect to recruitment, hiring, promotion, training, pay, social activities, and other employment-related activities. A qualified individual is one who can perform the basic duties of their job with or without accommodation. If you have a physical, mental, intellectual, or developmental disability, the ADA requires your employer make reasonable accommodations unless doing so results in an undue hardship for the employer. For IBD patients, reasonable accommodations may include moving an employee’s desk closer to the bathroom or receiving paid or unpaid leave for hospitalizations for surgery, medical appointments, and medication infusion appointments.

This critical civil rights law was life-changing for the disability community. Previously, those with disabilities were often subjected to discrimination and lacked opportunities to participate in and be contributing members of society. The ADA changed that. In addition, the ADA also requires that both public and private colleges and universities provide equal access to education for students with disabilities. 

While the ADA has created and protected opportunities for disabled people, many continue to fight for inclusion in the physical and digital world:

  • In 2020, there were 3,550 ADA-related lawsuits filed
  • Disabled people continue to experience inaccessible voting experiences
  • Disabled people continue to experience accessibility issues on websites and at events

I encourage you all to read more about the ADA in our fact sheet and check out this list of books sharing perspectives on disabilities from the New York Public Library.