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July is Disability Pride Month

The Disability Pride flag with a black background and multicolored lightening bolts across at an angle.

Some History on Disability Pride Month

Did you know July is Disability Pride Month?  I admit it wasn’t until last week when I read an article in Diversability Magazine that I learned about it.

In July of 1990, when the Americans with Disabilities Act was founded, the very first Disability Pride Parade was held in Boston, Massachusetts. It was held again the next year but ended after the death of the lead organizer, Diana Viets.

In 2004, the Disability Pride Parade was revived in Chicago with almost 2000 people in attendance, surpassing everyone’s expectations. The parades now take place in areas across the U.S., Norway, the United Kingdom, South Korea, and Germany.

In 2015, in celebration of the ADA’s 25th anniversary, Mayor de Blasio of New York City declared July as Disability Pride Month for the city of New York. Although this declaration was for New York City only, the disability community adopted it nationwide.

What is Disability Pride?

AmeriDisability describes disability pride as:
"People with disabilities are the largest and most diverse minority within the population, representing all abilities, ages, races, ethnicities, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds.

'Disability pride' has been defined as accepting and honoring each person's uniqueness and seeing it as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity.

Disability Pride is an integral part of movement-building, and a direct challenge of systemic ableism and stigmatizing definitions of disability."

What’s the Focus of the Disability Pride Movement?

Disability Pride focuses on the social model of disability.  The social model is viewed as more positive than the medical model because the social model involves advocacy, change, and action.

One organizer of Disability Pride Week at the University of Washington expressed her desire to change society's concept of people with disabilities, moving away from the medical model of disability:

"I want to promote a different understanding of 'disability' beyond the medical model. I want people to realize the issue of 'disability' as a socially created problem," Luetzow said. The medical model of disability is presented as a problem of the person, directly caused by trauma, disease, or other health condition, which requires sustained medical care. On the other hand, the management of the problem within the social model of disability requires social action and cultural, individual, community, and large-scale change. ~ from Disability Pride Week, Wikipedia

What does the Disability Pride Flag Represent?

Here's a breakdown of the elements of the Disability Pride Flag and what each means:

  • The Black Field: A color of mourning; for those who have suffered from Ableist violence, and also rebellion and protest.
  • The Zigzag/Lightning Bolt: How disabled people must navigate barriers, and the creativity in doing so; breaking free from normative authority and body control.
  • The Five Colors: The variety of needs and experiences (Mental Illness, Intellectual and Developmental Disability, Invisible and Undiagnosed Disabilities, Physical Disability, and Sensory Disabilities).
  • The Parallel Stripes: Solidarity within the Disability Community and all its differences.
The Disability Pride flag with a black background and a zigzag bolt coming across diagonally in parallel colors of green, red, white, yellow and blue in order of top to bottom.

How Can We Become Better Allies?

  • Participate in the Virtual Disability Pride Parade under the #VirtualDisabilityParade hashtag on July 26! Visit the Easter Seals website to grab a "sign" and learn more about Disability Pride Month.

  • If you are a digital designer, think inclusive and design with accessibility in mind. Take a few minutes to read Designing with accessibility in mind: a conversation. Panelists Cynthia Bennett of Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute; Srin Madipalli, who founded accessible travel marketplace Accomable (which exited to Airbnb); and Mara Mills, associate professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University and a co-founder and co-director of the NYU Center for Disability Studies.

More ways to become a better A11Y ally.



Maggie Vaughan, CPACC
Content Marketing Practitioner