Disability Pride Month

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July is Disability Pride Month. If you didn’t know that to be honest, we’re not surprised! Even though it’s been celebrated by some members of the disability community for over 30 years, even most disabled people still aren’t aware of its existence. So, here’s our lowdown on Disability Pride Month and why it matters.


What is it?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed on July 26, 1990, to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities. Following this legislation, Boston held the first Disability Pride Day in July 1990 and Disability Pride Month was born. Since then, Disability pride events have been celebrated in the month of July in cities including Los Angeles, New York City; San Antonio, Madison, Wisconsin; Brighton, UK; and Charleston, South Carolina. The list of participating cities continues to grow. While disability pride and parades are a relatively new concept, the idea of Disability Pride is rooted in the same foundation as movements like LGBTQ+ and Black Pride. In 2013, Chicago’s Disability Pride Parade defined their mission in three ways: “To change the way people think about and define ‘disability,’ to break down and end the internalized shame among people with Disabilities, and to promote the belief in society that Disability is a natural and beautiful part of human diversity in which people living with disabilities can take pride.”


What does it mean to us?

But what does pride mean in the context of disability? For many disabled people, seeing these two words in the same sentence is a novel concept. People with disabilities have traditionally been made to feel ‘less than’ and ashamed of their identity by society. The very fact that we may need ‘accommodations’ or special services in order to do the most basic things in life, can lead to an internalized feeling of shame. Every time we have to say sorry for needing a ramp to access a venue, or we have to explain to someone why we need extra time in a test, it chips away at the pride we have in ourselves and our disabled identities.

To overcome these feelings, it’s helpful to look at the social model of disability. The social model says yes, we may have medical conditions, but it’s society that disables us. It’s inaccessibility that’s the disabling thing, not some problem deep within is that we need to fix. Think about it, if the ramp was always there, or we all just did away with the notion that doing well under time pressure equals academic success, our disabilities wouldn’t lead us to have those feelings of shame and internalized guilt in the first place.

The word “Pride” is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a reasonable or justifiable self-respect.” At the Valuable 500, we believe that every single person with a disability deserves to feel pride in themselves, because it is unequivocally justifiable and reasonable to be proud of being disabled. For us, it’s a month to celebrate each other’s uniqueness and take pride in who we are. Because let’s not forget that being disabled makes us inherent problem solvers, innovative thinkers and gives us an ability to see the world through a unique and valuable lens.

Laken Brooks, a graduate student at the University of Florida, writer, and digital storyteller says, “Disability Pride is an event that celebrates people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Now, some people may balk at that second word, Pride. But Disability Pride isn’t about appropriating LGBTQ+ Pride. In fact, the disabled and the LGBTQ+ communities have long been intertwined and have long survived under similar oppression. Disability Pride, much like LGBTQ+ Pride, is all about celebrating and reclaiming our visibility in public because people with disabilities have historically been pushed out of public spaces.” ¹

So how can we as a community celebrate and elevate Disability Pride this July? How can we work together to change the outdated perception that these two words don’t and shouldn’t belong together?

A great start is by sharing the Disability Pride flag!

The Disability Pride flag is a large horizontal stripe made up of individual red, yellow, white, blue and green stripes on a black background.

Created by Ann Magill


The meaning of the flag?

The Disability Pride Flag was created by Ann Magill, a disabled woman, and each of its elements symbolizes a different part of the disability community.

  1. The Black Field: this field is to represent the disabled people who have lost their lives due to not only their illness, but also to negligence, suicide, and eugenics.
  2. The Colors: each color on this flag represents a different aspect of disability or impairment.
    • Red: physical disabilities
    • Yellow: cognitive and intellectual disabilities
    • White: invisible and undiagnosed disabilities
    • Blue: mental illness
    • Green: sensory perception disabilities

Ann Magill redesigned the flag in July 2021 based on feedback from the disabled community that, when viewed online (especially when scrolling), the original lighenting bolt design created a strobe effect, and posed a risk for people with epilepsy and migraine sufferers. Several people in the Disability community collaborated on Tumblr and came to a consensus on a new design that’s more accessible to everyone. Ann herself says, “I believe it is better for communication and awareness that we focus on one version of the flag.” ²

The inclusive approach of the flat honors the meaning behind Disability Pride. Everyone is welcome to get involved, take part and celebrate pride in themselves and this fabulous, diverse and unique identity is called Disability. We think the redesign is also a brilliant example of this amazing community in action, coming together to hack a solution that works for everyone.

So, this Disability Pride Month, help us spread the word and put Disability Pride on the map.


Paying Tribute

The Black Field on Ann Magill’s Disability Pride flag is designed to represent the disabled people who have lost their lives due to their illness, negligence, suicide, and eugenics. As part of our Disability Pride celebrations this July, we want to pay tribute to all the disabled people who lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 had a disproportionate effect on people with disabilities, with some studies estimating that at least 6 out of 10 people who died from the virus were disabled. Sadly, this was too often due to negligence on the part of healthcare providers and a lack of special measures to prevent people with disabilities being exposed to the virus. A significant number of disabled people also reported that, due to lockdown, their healthcare needs were not fully met or that they had treatment cancelled or delayed. The high number of COVID-19 deaths among disabled people ultimately reflects wider failures in how governments worldwide supported the people who were most at risk.

This Disability Pride Month, we remember all those who lost their lives and are unable to celebrate with us this July, as well as all those who continue to be affected by the pandemic.

The Valuable 500 is a global business partnership of 500 companies working together to end disability exclusion. The Valuable 500 believes that inclusive leaders create inclusive business, inclusive business creates inclusive society, and working together accelerates and scales system impact. For more information, visit thevaluable500.com.

¹ https://www.verywellmind.com/understanding-disability-pride-month-5193069
² https://capri0mni.dreamwidth.org/830431.html



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