Disability Pride Month

The Disability Pride Flag, initially designed in 2019 by Ann Magill, was created to encompass all disabilities.  It was revised in 2021 with community input, and is now in the public domain.  Within the flag, each color stripe has a meaning:

  • Red - physical disabilities
  • Gold - neurodiversity
  • White - invisible disabilities and disabilities that haven't yet been diagnosed
  • Blue - emotional and psychiatric disabilities, including mental illness, anxiety, and depression
  • Green - for sensory disabilities, including deafness, blindness, lack of smell, lack of taste, audio processing disorder, and all other sensory disabilities

The faded black background mourning and rage for victims of ableist violence and abuse. The diagonal Bband cuts across the walls and barriers that separate the disabled from normate society, also representing light and creativity cutting through the darkness.

History of Disability Pride:

Disability Pride is celebrated in July as a result of the passage of  the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law on July 26, 1990. But the history of civil rights protections for people with disabilities is older than the ADA. In 1973, discrimination against those with disabilities became illegal with the passage of Section 504, and its addition to the Rehabilitation Act. It was the first legislation that addressed the minoritization of all people with disabilities. However, its protections only extended to employers who received federal funding. 

The mobilization and diligence of the community resulted in the ADA we know today, which recognizes discrimination against those with disabilities, and demands access for them as well. Unfortunately, there are still threats to equality for people with disabilities in the U.S. In 2021, for example, Senators Baldwin and Langevin introduced the Air Carrier Amendments Act which expands the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act of 2021 (ACAA), and prohibits airlines from discriminating against passengers with disabilities. Yet, the ACAA does not protect a private right of action. There is a barrage of info on, for example, children with autism getting kicked off planes by airlines with impunity. 

In addition to July being designated as Disabilities Pride Month, people with invisible disabilities, which may not be outwardly recognizable, are celebrated in October. Here are some helpful reminders on how to be more inclusive regarding invisible disabilities: https://www.hivelearning.com/site/resource/diversity-inclusion/invisible-disabilities/

Tips on ways to celebrate and advocate for Disability Pride Month

  • Educate yourself on how to properly address members of the disability community: Learning the different language preferences used to identify members of the disability community is an important step in becoming an ally or advocate. For example, “person-first language” warrants that people get to know a “person first” prior to simply identifying the person’s disability. Terms and phrases often used in “person-first language” include “person with a disability” or “people with disabilities.” It is important to know that the “person-first” is also denounced by some who feel as if this language stigmatizes disabilities by isolating a person from their identity. On the other hand, the “identity-first language” is used with terms and phrases like “disabled person” or “autistic person.” Such terms are favored by those who connect their disability with their personhood. Nevertheless, asking whether or not to use “person-first” or “identity-first language” rather than assuming a person’s identity is a way to respect someone’s chosen identity.
  • Sit down, be quiet, and listen: An empathetic way of showing allyship is allowing those who have experience with disabilities to tell you about their lives, hopes, dreams, and needs. A person can acknowledge the human experience associated with struggles and taking risks by not trying to fix assumed disability-related problems; instead, sit down, be quiet, and listen.
  • Recognize people for who they are:  Be aware that viewing people with disabilities as inspiring just for living their lives can make them feel othered. The disability community does not pity their diagnosis, rather they suffer from outdated myths, stereotypes and constant ableism around them. They don’t need pity.
  • Respect individual experiences: Recognizing and acknowledging that every person is different is vital in supporting the disability community. In addition, displaying empathy for a variety of ways disabilities are experienced exhibits respect.
  • Make sure content you produce is accessible: Ensuring that whenever you share content via a website, article, video, blog, PowerPoint, or social media platform, you make sure it is accessible for everyone. 
  • Stand up, speak out, and make noise:  You can stand up, speak out, and make noise by volunteering your time by joining committees, boards, or organizations that represent and advocate for disability rights. Joining lobbying efforts, signing petitions, meeting with your legislators, and voting are all ways to support the community. Finally, finding a quality organization to donate to is another effective way to advocate for the disability community.
  • Ask questions respectfully:  When asking questions, recognize that members from the disability community have every right to choose whether or not to answer your question. Making sure that questions being asked are respectful and devoid of judgment can be an effective way to show support.
  • Recognize that not all disabilities are visible: An invisible disability or hidden disability is an umbrella term that captures a spectrum of hidden and non-apparent disabilities. Moreover, an invisible disability is a physical, mental, or neurological condition that isn’t seen from the outside. Examples of invisible conditions can include, but are not limited to: cognitive impairment and brain injury; the autism spectrum; chronic illness like multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, and fibromyalgia; deaf and/or hard of hearing; blindness and/or low vison; anxiety depression, PTSD, and many more. In addition, invisible disabilities are broken up into the following categories:
    • Non-apparent disability: indicates that a disability may not be apparent. However, non-apparent disabilities could become apparent depending on the type of disability.
    • Hidden disability: implies that a person with a disability is choosing not to disclose their disability and/or information regarding their disability.
    • Invisible disability: This term can be offensive to some in the disability community. Invisible disability can assume that the person is not visible or that you cannot discern that a person has a disability, which is not always true.
  • Attend a Disability Pride Event: By deciding to attend a disability celebration or event, you are advocating for a worthy cause.


Related Resources: