By George H. Fleischner, President/CEO, Nonotuck Resource Associates
On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law, landmark legislation that was the first federal civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Similar to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, and transportation. Today, more than 30 years later, the ADA remains a crucial moment in the fight for equality and dignity for those with disabilities.
In recognition of this groundbreaking legislation, July is (unofficially) recognized as Disability Pride Month. While this month means many things to many people, we view it as an opportunity to loudly denounce ableism (social prejudice against people with disabilities), to encourage a continued representation of people with disabilities in the media, and to celebrate the members of our community who have disabilities.
It is important that we view people with disabilities not with pity but with the pride this month celebrates. They are vital members of our community, like the Nonotuck member on the Cape who spends his spare time keeping the beaches near his house clean by picking up trash. Or the brother and sister who live together in the Berkshires who enjoy joint vacations with their born family and their shared living family. Or the Nonotuck community member whose painting caught the eye of a Massachusetts state legislator, who proudly displays it in his office at the State House. We take pride in the countless members of the Nonotuck community who have shared decades-long relationships as members of mutually rewarding households.
These people, like everyone else, are all deserving of a mutuality of love, authenticity, a voice, and the power to make their own decisions. This month, and every month, we celebrate them, and all the ways we learn from them every day.
Learn More About Nonotuck
Learn how Nonotuck developed a love-based ideology of care. We started our shared living program as an alternative to group homes for people with disabilities. Instead, Shared Living creates genuine life transformation for people with disabilities, as well as families and communities. The true power of caregiving is found through hospitality, authenticity, and love.