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Guest column: Celebrating Disability Pride

July 15, 2022

Portrait: Tony Dixon in a suit with Forest Service lapel pin. American & Forest Service flags behind him.
Associate Chief Tony Dixon, Business Operations

Have you heard about Disability Pride? Though not yet universally acknowledged, several cities nationwide host parades and events this month to recognize the countless contributions of people with different abilities and commemorate the Americans with Disabilities Act enactment.

Signed on July 26, 1990, the law prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including employment, transportation, housing and access to various government programs and services. Since 1990, we celebrate Disability Pride Month annually in July. It's a time for people living with disabilities to honor their many unique talents and skills.

Disability, visible or invisible, can happen at any point in a person's lifetime. As individuals, we experience disability differently. Celebrating Disability Pride includes expanding your consciousness of those living with disabilities and reflecting upon their contributions. Increased awareness invites opportunities to change how disability is perceived, end stigmas and promote expanded appreciation as a natural part of human diversity.

People with disabilities have an integral place in our communities and our agency's workforce. The Forest Service's core values of service, interdependence and diversity embrace the inclusion of diverse abilities. Inclusion cultivates higher workplace morale and credibility. Inclusion provides avenues to improved access to talents, skills and higher quality outcomes and services to the communities we live in and serve.

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Specifically inherent to its core value of interdependence, the Forest Service hosts several voluntary, employee-led resource groups, where colleagues of similar cultures and interests can share experiences and foster a more profound sense of belonging and empowerment. The Dynamic Employees Beyond Disabilities' group advocates for, advances and strengthens the rights and opportunities of individuals with disabilities.

DEBD envisions a Forest Service where diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility are prevalent and barriers, biases and misconceptions are eliminated. Our goal is for a workplace where all individuals are supported, valued and afforded equal opportunities as their colleagues without disabilities.

True inclusion accepts and celebrates differences. You can become an advocate or an ally by confronting ableism, practicing inclusive etiquette and dispelling disability myths. Consider including various access methods and standard accessibility symbols in your communication and work products and attend cultural competency and awareness training.

As July unfolds, explore the upcoming offerings and many resource links below. Happy Disability Pride Month!

Graphic: Hands indicating sign language.

In honor of the 32nd anniversary of the ADA, the Office of Civil Rights Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Directorate is teaming up with Deaf Services Unlimited to host Deaf Culture Training on July 26 and Oct. 25. Stay tuned for your calendar invite!

We will provide American Sign Language interpreters and captioning during the training.

Check out these additional resources:

Editor's Note: Provide feedback about this column, submit questions or suggest topics for future columns through the FS-Employee Feedback inbox.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/inside-fs/leadership/guest-column-celebrating-disability-pride