Disability Pride has its roots in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law in 1990. That same year, Boston held the first Disability Pride Day to celebrate the achievements and contributions of people with disabilities. Over time, the celebration grew and in July 2015, which coincided with the 25th anniversary of the ADA, Disability Pride Month was officially recognized.
Disability Pride Month is an opportunity to raise awareness about the challenges faced by people with disabilities and to recognize their accomplishments and contributions. It’s a time to celebrate diversity, promote inclusion and advocate for equal rights and opportunities for all.
To recognize this Disability Pride Month, five members of our Disability and Chronic Illness Coalition Employee Resource Group (DCIC ERG) share their thoughts about what the month means to them and how the DCIC ERG makes a difference in their lives at Cengage Group.
Why It’s Important to Recognize Disability Pride Month
“Disability Pride Month is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate how far we’ve come to provide equality for people living with chronic illnesses and disabilities,” says Jodi R., Vice President, Finance. “It’s a chance to honor those in our community who fought for justice and to recognize and celebrate people who are living in a world that is not always designed for them. Disability Pride Month is an opportunity to acknowledge that disability and chronic illness doesn’t look the same on everyone. In fact, in many cases it’s invisible. This serves as a good reminder to all that you never know what someone is going through.”
Austin L., Technical Product Specialist, adds, “Many of our disabilities are not visible every day, or to everyone, and that's especially true with our work being conducted remotely. This month provides an opportunity to learn from our colleagues and share our own experience.”
Casey M., User Experience Researcher, agrees, “I think this month probably gets overlooked often so it’s great to see us talking about it. Having a disability is one of those things that if you can hide it, you usually do. People don’t want to talk about it openly because of the stigma, the looks and the assumptions. I think having this month can help push the needle towards a world where we remember one in six people around the world have a significant disability. When disabilities become more visible and celebrated, it will be easier to get the resources and empathy we need from institutions and our fellow humans to live happier and healthier lives.”
“Disability Pride Month is a time to elevate disabled voices, celebrate the work of disability rights activists and recognize the challenges that folks in this community continue to face,” says Katelyn P., Contracts Paralegal and co-lead of the Disability and Chronic Illness Coalition.
Emily L., Director, Product Development Research and a co-chair of DCIC, adds, “Disability Pride Month provides an opportunity to recognize groups that are marginalized and celebrate their differences. With this month, we can help increase awareness around the challenges we face when we’re not included when thinking about events, technology, buildings and other things that we interact with in our everyday life.”
Celebrating Disability Pride Month
Throughout the month, the Disability and Chronic Illness Coalition ERG will be hosting an American Sign Language (ASL) workshop with Signing Basics, a Massachusetts-based ASL education organization. They will also be collaborating with the Parents and Caregivers ERG on a discussion group about the intersection of parenting and disability. Finally, they will host a session with the Leaves Team on the process of requesting accommodations at Cengage Group.
About the events, Emily says, “We want to help others who don’t know what it is like to have a disability or chronic illness have a better understanding while also demystifying processes that our members may be encountering for the first time.”
Austin plans to attend and feels “there is great value in the events hosted by the DCIC and other ERGs. These events give us opportunities for professional and personal growth while fostering an inclusive community.”
“I think this month is an excellent time to actively learn more about the experiences of disabilities, chronic illnesses and neurodivergences,” adds Katelyn. “Communicating respectfully with members of this community and finding media that teaches about these experiences can open the door for conversations and understanding.”
Casey hopes to spend time this month relaxing and reflecting. “During my time recharging, I’d love to read some books on my list and maybe reread a few, specifically by disabled authors. That being said, I will be working hard to not put pressure on myself to achieve anything in particular. Rest will be my gift to myself and my celebration of the month.”
How Our Disability and Chronic Illness Coalition Makes a Difference at Cengage Group
“DCIC gives me a lot of validation that I am not alone, and that none of this is easy,” says Casey. “Every time I go to a DCIC event I’m reminded how many people can relate to me and I feel less alone. When you first get a diagnosis it’s easy to think no one will ever be able to understand what you’re going through, and DCIC is a big reminder to me that many people can relate or at least sympathize because of similar situations. It’s a great community to have behind you.”
Jodi adds, “Having the opportunity to provide a support system for our members and advocate on their behalf is near and dear to my heart because I am also a member of this community. I was diagnosed with a chronic illness a little over 10 years ago and I wish that my former employer offered the same resources and support that we have through the DCIC at Cengage Group. Trying to navigate both the physical and mental challenges of living with a chronic illness or disability and perform well at your job and at a home is a lot but being able to provide a space for employees to come together and support one another is very fulfilling. It’s also a great opportunity to drive change and for that I’m very appreciative of our leadership team for being open to listening to our ideas to provide a more inclusive working environment here at Cengage Group.”
“DCIC has provided me the space to meet others with both similar and very different experiences as my own,” says Katelyn. “It has created the opportunity for me and others to discuss what we need to make the workspace accessible to all, and to grow as a company. Most importantly, it has opened the door to conversations around disability that will hopefully continue to make meaningful improvements.”
Emily adds, “DCIC provides me with the opportunity to learn and grow from others who may not have the same diagnosis or specific disability I do but that do have shared experiences. It’s a community of people who get it when others don’t. We’ve also been able to identify gaps that our members face in relation to equipment and systems, and we work internally to make that better for our employees.”
Austin says, “By advocating for an inclusive and accessible workplace, the work of the DCIC benefits all Cengage Group employees.”
By celebrating diversity and fostering a culture of inclusivity, we can create a workplace where everyone can thrive and reach their full potential. If you’re interested in knowing more about what it’s like to work at Cengage Group, read more Employee Experiences and visit our Careers page to view open positions.