News & Media

Senator Hoey marks Disability Pride Month

13 July 2021

Statement by Senator Annie Hoey
Spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science

Marking Disability Pride Month, Senator Annie Hoey has called for Government and opposition parties to engage with the month's events, crucially on the issue of universal design. Speaking in the Seanad yesterday Senator Hoey said:

"July is global Disability Pride Month, the annual event that seeks to shine a light on physical, learning and hidden disabilities and mental health conditions. It is used to talk about disability as an identity, a community and a culture, and a positive pride for disabled people. It is a reminder that there is no single way for being disabled to look. There are many ways that disabled people live, whether it is physical, mental or intellectual disability. Disability is a diverse identity that intersects with race, sexuality, gender, sex, religion and much more.

"The month is important for many reasons. We can all agree that our world is not designed or built for disabled people. We do not have universal design embedded into our structures. We do not have universally designed learning and mainstreaming in our further and higher education system. Considering that 15% of the worldwide population is disabled, it is astonishing that there is still such an egregious divide in our society.

"For example, in DART stations disabled people have to ask permission to use the lifts. Disabled people have to book accessible buses or ramps up to 48 hours before travelling. There are disabled people who are not legally allowed to make their own decisions, and there are disabled people who are locked out of education in Ireland due to either physical constraints or an affordability issue such as putting their social welfare supports at risk. We should be angry at how disabled people are treated under our watch.

"I ask all Members of the House to engage with the spirit of Disability Pride Month. As legislators, we must challenge systemic ableism and the discrimination disabled people face. We can do this by ensuring we have laws and policies that tackle systemic ableism, but we also have to do it ourselves in our own lives with closed captioning, alt tech and subtitling. I remind Members that disabled people are not a problem to be overcome.

"The problem is the system and oppression that we, as legislators, stand over and which we have to correct. I wish a happy Disability Pride Month to the activists and disabled people who are holding the fire to our feet and challenging us and the systems we currently stand over."