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Tidbits of Joy #47 - Disability Empowerment

Dear AdNet Employees, Clients and Friends;

One of our AdNet Team asked to write the next Tidbits of Joy because as a disabled person, she has a great deal of pride for her journey and the amazing people who have empowered her. Please meet Sydney Blondell and absorb her message, it’s beautiful. 😊

To many people in this country, July means backyard BBQs, hot days chilling in the pool, and celebrating the foundation of America. July also means that it is Disability Pride Month. In our society, able-bodied people have decided that the word “disabled” is a bad thing. That the disabled community is somehow less than because the disabled suffer with something that is foreign to the average healthy person.

AdNet strives to be inclusive to all, which is why we pride ourselves on being run by people who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community, disabled community, and by people of color. We celebrate Disability Month not only because it directly impacts our team, but because the disabled community deserved uplifting.

Disability Pride Month first started being celebrated in Boston, MA in 1990 after the American with Disabilities Act was signed into law, however, the first official celebration wasn’t until 25 years later in 2015. Disability Pride is celebrated because so many disabled persons face ableism and discrimination. Many with invisible illness feel the need to prove their disability because if someone doesn’t “look” sick, society often shames them for utilizing mobility aids and handicap accessible resources. Disabilities are broader than one may think. They can be invisible, visible, physical or mental. Though more times than not, only physical disabilities are recognized outside of the disabled community.

Hollywood often tries to represent disabilities in movies and television shows, sometimes having great success in representing the community and other times approaching the representation in an ableist way. Poor examples on how the media represents disabled people are: the helpless victim, the evil villain, and the inspirational hero. The helpless victim trope is harmful because it implies that people with disabilities are incapable of functioning without the help of an able-bodies person. Evil villains in television and movies are often written to have a mental illness. This is harmful because it solidifies the stereotype that all people with mental health struggles will in some way follow a dangerous path. Lastly, the inspirational hero trope does not help represent the disabled community accurately because it implies that people with disabilities have something to overcome and if they can do it, then a “normal” person can certainly do it. This plays into the idea that disabled people are less than those without any form of disability.

There has been great progress in better representing the disabled community, particularly in literature. Below is a list of books that accurately and positively represent disabilities.

  • Sick Kids Love by Hannah Moskowitz (Rheumatoid Arthritis and Gaucher Disease representation)

  • Just Our Luck by Julia Walton (Anxiety representation)

  • Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott (Cystic Fibrosis representation)

  • The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus (Cancer representation)

  • House Arrest by K. A. Holt (Subglottic Stenosis representation)

AdNet wishes you a happy Disability Pride Month and encourages you to take steps this month to become better allies for the disabled community. Whether it is educating yourself on the different kinds of disabilities, reading one of the books mentioned above, donating to the Disability Pride Parade fund, or supporting a small business owned or operated a person(s) with a disability.

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