What Disability Pride means to me?

July 26, 2023
Disability Pride Month blog by Toni-Marie

Hello Readers! My name is Toni-Marie. I will tell you just a little bit about my disability as I feel it is relevant. I have cerebral palsy quadriplegia and scoliosis of the spine. This means I am a full-time electric wheelchair user.

Toni-Marie Sandpipers guest and blogger

I’m back for a Spotlight Blog, and it is great to be back!

Why is Disability Pride Month celebrated?

As I see it, Disability Pride Month can mean different things to people with disabilities. But essentially, I think it is about celebrating our uniqueness and embracing our disability!

Disability Pride originally started as a day of celebration in America in 1990. This was the very same year that The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed. The first Disability Pride Month was celebrated in 2015 and marked the 25th anniversary of the ADA Act.

Whilst I describe myself as more of a social activist and commentator, I firmly believe that it is because of the absolute determination of the campaigning activists who fought so incredibly hard to give disabled people a platform to be heard, we now have a recognised and influential voice through the Law that became the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995.

This legislation paved the way for the changes you see today and in the future. In my opinion, the effectiveness and power of this legislation in the long term would also depend on disabled people continuing to push for positive change actively.

What does Disability Pride mean to me?

Who can forget the overwhelming sense of disability pride that was so incredibly powerful, felt by the disability community everywhere following the London Paralympics 2012? Suddenly in one moment, it felt good to have a set of wheels or a disability.

TeamGB at the Paralympic Opening Ceremony

As a woman of 51, I am very aware that there is often an unspoken undercurrent of non-acceptance of all that we are as people, especially women with disabilities. And it is very easy to fall into the unhealthy habit of questioning our own sense of self-worth. This is often a direct result of the perceived non-acceptance itself.

However, I am not naive enough to think that a poor sense of self-worth does not extend to those without a disability, especially in a world where the media, particularly social media, plays an extremely powerful role in how we see ourselves and the world around us.

The clue is in ‘self’ worth. We must all invest in ourselves no matter what. I know first-hand how hard it is to remain unaffected by the sometimes negative views, opinions and actions of others who are non-disabled. However, this is when a sense of self-pride is needed more than ever!

Nobody asks to be disabled – it is what it is – and we cannot change it. But we CAN work on developing and sustaining a positive mindset. And my goodness, this is extremely difficult when every difference and perceived flaw is looked under society’s microscope.

The Source of my Disability Pride

I have one woman to thank for my pride in all I am today and continue to be. I am a strong, independent and courageous woman with a dash of hope. And it is my hidden deep-rooted insecurities that soften my heart. Thank you to my amazing mum for creating an accepting sense of pride for me that I always come home to.

Now everyone knows how much I love you, Mum!

And to anyone reading this with their own disability, please see through your insecurities and replace them with pride!

And to readers who aren’t disabled – disabled people are people first, and our disabilities are a small yet significant part of who we are. Please don’t define us by it! However, we are, of course, not ashamed of it. We strive for you to embrace every part of who we are as fellow human beings, with the same hopes, dreams, desires and wishes for our lives.

It is my disability and I own it!

Always see your ability in disability!

Thank you for reading

Toni-Marie x

Disclaimer: The views expressed are the author’s own.