Beginning June 10, Philadelphia will celebrate the annual Disability Pride and Celebration Week, a near week-long affair (June 10-15) promoting visibility and positivity for people with disabilities. Included among the events are a flag raising kick off, happy hour, movies, panels, live theater experiences and a final pride parade celebration on Saturday, June 15.
“Disability Pride Week gives our families, friends, allies, organizations, and people living with disabilities an opportunity to socialize and celebrate with friends, make new friends, and celebrate the awesomeness of our community,” says Joyce Landers, who lives in the Cecil B. Moore section of North Philadelphia. “In addition, we want to give our community the availability to learn about services, and new, innovative things happening in our immediate area and around the world.”
According to the Disability Pride Philadelphia website, the parade “[seeks] to change the way people think about and define disability, to end the stigma of disability, and to promote the belief that disability is a natural and beautiful part of human diversity in which people living with disabilities can take pride.”
The first Disability Pride Day was held in Boston in 1990, in honor of the ADA signing. The parade element made its debut at a Disability Pride event held in Chicago in 2004. Philadelphia was the fourth U.S. city to host a parade in 2012, and one of only 15 cities in the country that hosts the event.
Given the limited accessibility of the city, the logistics of putting on this series of events seems a daunting challenge. Landers acknowledges it can be difficult, especially with little institutional support, saying, “For all events, you must be engaged and have an understanding about the entire community you are planning for.”
To make it happen, Disability Pride has multiple committees, she says, covering everything from fundraising and booking performers to marketing and logistics of accessibility. Someone has to visit each venue to evaluate things like ADA compliance in entrances, seating, bathrooms, accommodations for interpreters and adjustable sound volumes, among other things. “We also want to make sure everything is free, except Happy Hour, so that everyone can participate regardless of socioeconomic status,” she added.
While the events have a lot to offer folks with disabilities and those close to them, Landers thinks it’s important for everyone to be aware of the myths surrounding disability and the realities of what it’s like to live with a disability.
Image credit: Photo by Author