Disability Pride Month celebrates disabled persons embracing their disabilities as integral parts of who they are, reclaiming visibility in public and interacting fully with their disabilities out in the open, and rejecting shame and internalized ableism. It is a time for the disability community to come together, uplift, and amplify one another’s voices and be heard. Disability pride has been described as “accepting and honoring each person’s uniqueness and seeing it as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity.”
People with disabilities have a right to equal access under the law – but too often, policies and practices that affect our everyday lives do not honor our fundamental rights. That’s why we at the ACLU are fighting for disability rights in schools, at the polling booth, in jails and prisons – anywhere and everywhere the rights of people with disabilities are under attack.
And in honor of Disability Pride Month this July, we wanted to highlight some of those important wins and battles, which you can read about more fully in my newest piece covering our ongoing fight for disability rights.
Here’s just some of the many ways we’ve been fighting back in the courtroom – and winning important legal battles along the way:
- VOTING. The ACLU has active litigation in Georgia, Texas, and many other states that have passed voter suppression laws making casting a ballot more difficult or even impossible for voters with disabilities – especially people with disabilities who are Black or Brown. These restrictions not only violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) but the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution. We won’t stop fighting until every eligible voter has equal access to the ballot.
- EDUCATION. At the height of the pandemic, states passed laws that would prevent schools from requiring students to wear masks. This meant that students with disabilities who had heightened risks from COVID were having to choose between their health and their education. In South Carolina, we challenged a state ban on mask mandates in schools – and won an order blocking its enforcement. We also filed suit challenging Iowa’s state ban and won in the district and appeals court. At a time when young students could not get vaccinations, our lawsuits helped protect thousands of school children.
- INCARCERATION. People with disabilities have a right to reasonable accommodations for their disability while incarcerated, on probation, or on parole – but prisons and jails operate as if these laws don’t apply to them. In Georgia, we have filed suits against the state’s Department of Corrections and the Department of Community Supervision. These state institutions have repeatedly failed to provide communication access to deaf and hard of hearing people, which means they get thrown in solitary for ‘failure to obey verbal instructions’ or sent back to prison because they violated a technical term of probation that was verbally explained to them. And all of this is in violation of the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Constitution.
MORE ARTICLES ON HOW THE ACLU IS PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: