For over 30 years, people with disabilities have been celebrating the signing of the Americans With Disabilities Act — a landmark legislation that changed the lives of disabled people forever. Since July 26, 1990, the act has protected rights of people with disabilities, prohibiting discrimination against the community in various aspects of public life, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, and telecommunications. Its passage was a monumental step towards dismantling barriers and promoting equal opportunities for disabled people.
While disability pride celebrations and disability pride events are relatively new, pride for human diversity is not. July is Disability Pride Month — a time to elevate disabled voices and rights as well as an opportunity for disabled individuals to celebrate who they are. It’s also a time to recognize the work of disability rights organizers and their efforts to initiate and promote change.
As the nation celebrates Disability Pride Month this year, join Ava in acknowledging 10 remarkable organizations that share a common goal: to improve the lives of the disabled community by fighting for disability rights and achieving a more accessible and equitable world for all.
10 Organizations Spearheading Disability Rights Efforts
Across the globe, numerous organizations are working tirelessly to ensure equal rights, opportunities, and equal access for the disabled community. Here are ten noteworthy organizations that are at the forefront of the fight for disability rights, each making significant contributions towards creating a more inclusive world.
Established in 1880, NAD is recognized as the oldest and largest organization representing the interests of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community in the United States. They focus on language rights, accessibility, and combating discrimination to ensure that Deaf individuals have full participation in society. Their advocacy efforts span across various areas such as early intervention, education, employment, healthcare, technology, telecommunications, and youth leadership. Through individual and organizational membership, NAD ensures the collective interests of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community are heard and represented among policymakers and opinion leaders at the federal level.
All Wheels Up is a non-profit company dedicated to ensuring airline travel is safe and accessible. They are currently the only organization in the world that conducts crash tests on wheelchair tie-downs and wheelchairs specifically designed for in-flight use. In addition, their Fly Safe Today initiative offers individuals inclusive in-flight safety equipment, including the CARES Harness and the ADAPT swing, for secure evacuations.
Through their advocacy, policy initiatives, and grassroots activism, organizations like All Wheels Up exemplify what it takes to achieve positive change and raise awareness for the rights and needs of people with disabilities. As society progresses, it’s crucial to support and collaborate with disability allies to build a more inclusive and equitable world for all.
Image Source: All Wheels Up
ASAN is an organization led by autistic individuals, promoting self-advocacy and empowerment. They challenge stereotypes and fight for the rights of autistic individuals through grassroots organizing, policy advocacy, and community education. Their mission revolves around fostering unity within the autistic community to ensure active participation in everyday life and experiences.
The Nora Project provides comprehensive training and guidance to educators while offering a range of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs. These programs extensively explore the crucial concepts of empathy and inclusion, with a particular focus on disability and recognizing diversity as an integral part of the human experience.
By bridging the gap between classroom learning and real-world application, their programs provide students with genuine opportunities to put their acquired knowledge into practice. Through direct instruction and hands-on experiences, students are empowered to actively apply the skills they have learned, fostering a deeper understanding of empathy and inclusion.
Image Source: The Nora Project
RespectAbility is an inclusive nonprofit organization, led by individuals with disabilities, dedicated to instigating transformative change in how society perceives and appreciates people with disabilities. The organization’s goal is to advocate for policies and initiatives that enable individuals with disabilities to achieve a more promising future.
At the core of their mission lies the battle against stigmas and biases surrounding disabilities, while simultaneously striving to enhance opportunities for full participation in all facets of the community. By challenging misconceptions and promoting inclusivity, RespectAbility works towards a society where people with disabilities are respected, valued, and given equal opportunities to thrive.
Inclusion International is a global federation advocating for the rights and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and their families. By collaborating with local organizations worldwide, they drive policy changes and promote inclusive education, employment, and community living. Inclusion International empowers individuals with intellectual disabilities to lead self-determined lives and actively participate in society.
Image Source: Inclusion International
Based in Chicago, Access Living is a leading force in the fight for disability rights. They champion independent living, community organizing, and policy advocacy to dismantle barriers and promote equal opportunities for people with disabilities in all aspects of life. By challenging stereotypes, protecting civil rights, and championing social reforms, Access Living gives people with disabilities the opportunity to live life as they choose.
Disability:IN is an influential organization that champions disability rights and promotes inclusion in the workplace. With a network of over 270 corporations, Disability:IN works to empower businesses to create accessible and inclusive environments for employees and customers with disabilities. They provide resources, training, and guidance to companies, helping them develop and implement disability inclusion strategies.
Disability:IN also conducts the annual Disability Equality Index (DEI), which evaluates businesses based on their disability inclusion practices and recognizes companies that prioritize accessibility and diversity. By fostering collaboration between businesses, Disability:IN is making significant strides in advancing disability rights and driving systemic change in workplaces across various industries.
Image Source: Disability:IN
9. Be My Eyes
Be My Eyes is a groundbreaking mobile app that connects individuals with visual impairments to sighted volunteers through live video calls. The organization empowers users to overcome daily challenges and enhances their independence. Through their innovative platform, people with visual disabilities can access immediate assistance for tasks like reading labels, identifying objects, and navigating their surroundings.
By providing real-time support and fostering a sense of community, Be My Eyes not only improves the daily lives of its users but also promotes disability rights by enabling individuals to navigate the world with greater confidence and autonomy. They are clearly demonstrating the power of technology to bridge gaps, foster inclusion, and transform lives, ultimately contributing to a more accessible and equitable society.
Ava enables individuals with hearing disabilities to actively participate in discussions, engage in social interactions, and access information in real-time with speech-to-text transcription technology. The mobile and desktop application combines AI with human scribes for fast and accurate captioning. By promoting inclusive communication, Ava empowers Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to exercise their right to equal participation and access to information.
Fostering a more inclusive and accessible society supports the needs of people with disabilities and values their skills and contributions. Ava is revolutionizing the way conversations are conducted, advocating for disability rights, and pushing the boundaries of accessibility, ultimately creating a world where communication is barrier-free for all.
Video Source: YouTube
A Collective Responsibility
Each year, Disability Pride Month serves as a reminder that disability rights are human rights, and that true equality can only be achieved when all individuals are given the same opportunities, respect, and access to fully participate in society. While much progress has been made since 1990, this month-long celebration is a time to focus on our collective responsibility to actively dismantle barriers, biases, and discriminatory practices. By embracing this collective responsibility, organizations worldwide can not only improve disability rights, but can also contribute to creating a more equitable and inclusive society for disabled individuals.