Another Pride Month

July is Disability Pride Month.

Why do we need so many pride months? Because invisibility hurts people. Disabled people have rights in America. Since 1990, they have protections against discrimination. However, discrimination is notoriously hard to prove, and the daily slights wear down a body and soul.

Invisibility can work in many ways. The most obvious is the wayspPeople avert their eyes to other people’s distress.

Visible problem, and people look right through you

It happens to people with obvious mobility impairments who are limping or otherwise struggling to get down the street, especially if they seem impoverished along with being disabled. When someone doesn’t speak clearly, some people do not have the patience to include them in the conversation. When people can’t do the activities they used to do, some of the friends who shared those activities fall off. Being excluded, and having people look past you wears a person down.

Among the people who are treated as “less than” in social and business environments are people with disabilities. That is why they are included in protections against housing, education, and work discrimination. Therefore, July is Disability Pride Month. It has been a generation since the Americans With Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. Yet people with disabilities still struggle to keep jobs, find usable housing, and do their daily business. Disabled people are a diverse group, from all levels of society and of all ages. We are all disabled, or currently able bodied. We can all do better for those who are currently disabled.

Invisible problem. Don’t tell and get no help?

When someone has an invisible disability, like epilepsy or MS (and it is not affecting mobility), other people do not know the daily struggles of the disabled person. This creates a whole different problem. If they state that they have a health condition that could be accommodated, will they then face discrimination?

That is the topic of a thoughtful book that I am eager to share with you.

An invitation to learn something this July

If you want to learn about the decisions that one local woman made about being public about her disability and what that cost her, here is your moment. I invite you to read Seizing Control: Managing Epilepsy and Others’ Reactions to It, by Laura Beretsky. In this book, you’ll meet Laura and see through her eyes how she held a big secret in order to keep a job. Then, she found a way to an authentic professional life, with all her cards on the table.

My husband, Dennis, worked alongside Laura decades ago. He did not know she had epilepsy until this book was published. He reviewed the book in The Somerville Times about a month ago.

I invite you to come to a book discussion on July 29th at the Somerville Library West Branch. Laura will be there. She’s a local!

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