Disability Pride Month: Resources and Support from YMHC

Disability Pride Month: Resources and Support from YMHC

The 2022 Canadian Survey on Disability

The 2022 Canadian Survey on Disability has revealed that 27% of the Canadian population over the age of 15 is disabled. This is a substantial increase from 2017, when this figure accounted for 22% of the population. The majority of this increase can be attributed to the inclusion of mental health disabilities.

Despite the high prevalence of people with disabilities in society, there is still a lot of stigma, discrimination, misconceptions, and ignorance associated with it. This discrimination that disabled individuals face is known as ableism. Disabled individuals may internalize these attitudes, which is known as internalized ableism. They may believe they are unworthy or less than.

This is why Disability Pride Month is important. Disability Pride Month takes place every July as a way to celebrate the disabled community and the contributions they make to society. It also recognizes those lost to ableism. Advocacy for equal rights, accessibility, and inclusion require systemic, structural, and societal change.

The History of Disability Awareness Month

On July 26th 1990, the United States House of Representatives passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against disabled individuals and outlines the steps organizations have to take to make their organization more accessible for disabled individuals.

Due to this, Disability Pride Month has been celebrated every July in the United States to celebrate the passing of this act into law. Now, this month of celebrations has expanded to other countries including Canada where the passing of Ontario's Bill 128 - "Disability Pride Month Act, 2023 has prompted celebrations during Disability Pride Month.

What is a Disability?

According to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), a disability is any visible or invisible condition that may have been present from birth, caused by an accident, or developed over time.

Disabilities can include a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Blindness or visual impairment
  • Deafness or hearing disabilities
  • Speech impairment
  • Brain injury
  • Epilepsy
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Learning disabilities
  • Mental health challenges
  • Reliance on a service dog
  • Physical or mobility disabilities, such as:
    • Paralysis
    • Amputation
    • Difficulty with balance or coordination

The above views disability from the medical model perspective as impaired ability. On the other hand, the social model of disability represents disability as an interplay between a person, their environment, and society. People are disabled by the environment in which they live. Environments that do not prioritize access and the needs of disabled individuals are likely to result in more suffering. Disability is viewed as something done to a person by society, rather than solely what someone has or is.

What Do the Colors of the Disability Pride Month Flag Represent?

The Disability Pride Flag features a straight diagonal banner of five colors on a dark background. Each color of the flag has its meaning.

  • The black background represents the mourning of those who have died as a result of ableism.
  • Each of the individual stripes also represents a different category of disability:
    • Red: physical disability
    • Blue: mental health disabilities
    • Yellow: Cognitive and intellectual disabilities
    • Green: sensory disabilities
    • White: invisible and undiagnosed disabilities.

The Disability Pride Flag as a whole is a symbol that represents the celebration of disability across the world.

Why Disability Pride Month is Important

Disability Pride Month is crucial for raising acceptance and understanding of disabilities and dispelling the myths that exist surrounding it.

Here are some disability facts:

These barriers are anything that hinders the full and equal participation in society of disabled individuals. In 2022, approximately 65.1% of disabled individuals aged 16 to 64 were employed, compared with 80.1% for those without disabilities. Moreover, the median hourly wages for employees with disabilities ($26.00) was 5.5% less than for those without disabilities ($27.50).

These statistics underscore the importance of access and support to make employment more accessible for disabled individuals. It also makes it clear that education and support are essential to saving lives.

Disability Resources

Youth Mental Health Canada

How to Observe Disability Pride Month

Taking time to celebrate Disability Pride Month helps to raise awareness for disabilities. Each individual can celebrate disabilities in their unique way.

Here are some of the ways you can observe Disability Pride Month and support the advocacy work for a more equitable, inclusive, and accessible world.

  • Support Disabled Individuals: given the fact that disabled individuals are more likely to be unemployed, it is crucial that we advocate for employment supports that support disabled individuals.
  • Encourage Education: Since approximately 27% of Canadians are disabled, it is likely that you know someone who is disabled. Encourage your friends, family, and co-workers to promote accessibility and advocate for inclusion.
  • Wear Disability Pride Colors: the Disability Pride Month colors are presented above. You can wear a pin or shirt with these colors to show support for disabled individuals.

YMHC Resources for Disability Pride Month

Youth Mental Health Canada (YMHC) provides valuable resources that can aid disabled individuals and their families. Here are some that can be particularly helpful during Disability Pride Month:

  • Sources of Support for Mental Wellness: Focuses on language surrounding disabilities and finding appropriate support networks, including accommodations that can support disabled individuals.
  • Creating a Personal Mental Wellness Action Plan: Since disabled individuals are more likely to experience suicidal ideation, developing an action plan for when you experience these thoughts may be helpful. This book helps individuals recognize warning signs, triggers, and coping mechanisms while creating a tailored mental wellness plan.
  • Creating Your Education Support Team: Comprehensive resource designed to assist students, families, and educators in identifying and developing a team of people to support students in accessing and managing an education.
  • Resource Hub: A monthly resource for educators, families, and students to seek education and support surrounding various topics related to mental health.

If you or a loved one needs help, contact YMHC today for resources and support. Let's work together to raise awareness, and advocate for a more inclusive society for disabled individuals.

Back to blog