Disability Pride Month 2024, Continuing the Fight for Inclusion

As we celebrate Disability Pride Month 2024 it’s important to recognize the pioneers who paved the way to where we are today. At the forefront stands Judy Heumann, a remarkable advocate whose tireless efforts sparked a movement in disability rights and advocacy.

The roots of Disability Pride Month can be traced back to the early 1990s when Heumann and others fought for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Heumann, an advocate for disability rights since the 1970s, played a major role in shaping the legislation that would become a cornerstone of disability rights in the United States.

The ADA, signed into law in July 1990, was a watershed moment.

It prohibited discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and spaces open to the general public. This landmark legislation not only improved accessibility but began to shift societal perceptions of disability in general.

In the wake of the ADA’s passage, Heumann and others recognized the need to also celebrate disability identity and culture. The first Disability Pride Day was held in Boston in 1990, marking the beginning of what would evolve into a month-long observance. These celebrations sought to transform any negative perceptions surrounding disability into feelings of pride and empowerment.

Today Disability Pride Month is a time to honor the diversity of the disability community, challenge remaining societal prejudices, and promote the message disability is valuable part of diversity.

While global legislative progress has been significant, the fight for true equality and inclusion continues. Programs like Upili, developed by Next Step Foundation, represent the next frontier in empowering Youth with Disabilities. Upili takes an innovative approach to addressing mental health challenges faced by young people with disabilities in Africa, who are ten times more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety due to widespread bias and exclusion.

Programs like Upili embody the spirit of Disability Pride Month.

This Disability Pride Month, the Next Step Foundation Team is also pausing to recognize one of our own trailblazers, Becky Mwaniki (1988-2024).

Becky’s pride in her achievements at Next Step Foundation were evident on a daily basis. Her role as IT Manager provided Becky an opportunity to fully utilize and showcase her talents. The position also gave her economic independence, allowing her to support her family financially. Most importantly, Becky transformed the perception of disability in her community. She demonstrated that when given equal educational opportunities, Youth with Disabilities can and will thrive.

Becky was deeply passionate about making a difference in the lives of Women with Disabilities in the technology sector. While we at Next Step Foundation feel the impact of her loss daily her legacy to our team and in her community remains.

As we celebrate Disability Pride Month, let’s honor the tireless efforts of change-making pioneers like Becky and the ongoing impact of programs like Upili. Together, let’s reaffirm disability does not equate to inability and that together we can forge the way toward a more inclusive world.

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