New York City hosted its first Disability Pride parade over the weekend. More than 3,000 participants marched on Broadway, many using wheelchairs, canes, walking frames and guide dogs.

disability pride new york
Michelle Kraus chants while she takes part in New York's first Disability Pride paradeEduardo Munoz/Reuters

Mayor Bill de Blasio kicked off the parade yesterday (12 July), saying his is proud that New York is a national leader in supporting rights for disabled people. He declared July "Disability Pride Month" in honour of the 25th anniversary of a federal act that aims to guarantee equal opportunities and rights for people with disabilities.

disability pride new york
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio addresses the crowd during the Disability Pride paradeEduardo Munoz/Reuters
disability pride new york
Eduardo Munoz/Reuters
disability pride new york
Donald Lee, a bilateral amputee, marches in the Disability Pride paradeEduardo Munoz/Reuters

Former US Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who 25 years ago sponsored the Americans With Disabilities Act, was the parade marshal. "I may be retired from the Senate, but I'm not retired from the fight," Harkin said. "We know that when companies hire people with disabilities they get the best workers, the most loyal workers, the most productive workers."

De Blasio said his administration is "very, very committed on the issue of accessible taxis, but all Tom Harkin had to do was say London was doing better to get my competitive fire going".

About four percent of New York's yellow cabs are accessible for disabled people, said Allan Fromberg, a spokesman for the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission, compared to London, where every taxi can handle wheelchairs.

disability pride new york
An MV-1 model taxi, one of New York's few yellow cabs that are accessible for disabled people (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
disability pride new york
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
disability pride new york
Andrea Dalzell, Ms Wheelchair New York, greets a supporter at the first annual Disability Pride ParadeStephanie Keith/Getty Images
disability pride new york
Eduardo Munoz/Reuters
disability pride new york
Nancy Brown, 73, who contracted polio when she was seven-years-old, takes part in the parade in New YorkEduardo Munoz/Reuters
disability pride new york
Caitlin Pereiras checks her phone while she takes part in the Disability Pride paradeEduardo Munoz/Reuters
disability pride new york
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
disability pride new york
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
disability pride new york
A group called 4 Wheel City performs before the start of the first annual Disability Pride ParadeStephanie Keith/Getty Images

The Disability Pride NYC parade also featured performances from disabled musicians, dancers, comedians. "We're here full force," said rapper Namel Norris of the group 4 Wheel City, 33, now in a wheelchair after being shot in the Bronx and paralysed as a teenager. "I thought my life was over, but music is my calling, I have a purpose in life."