July is Disability Pride Month which commemorates the passing of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, 1990. ADA provides rules and guidelines for access for people with disabilities in regards to public and commercial spaces. Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ADA “prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life — to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services”. (https://www.ada.gov/ada_intro.htm)
Disability Pride Month seeks to celebrate the uniqueness of people with disabilities, as well as promote acceptance of the disability community while challenging ableism and discrimination that people with disabilities may experience. Several cities across the U.S. host parades and other activities to celebrate and bring to the forefront voices of people with disabilities. The lack of representation of people with disabilities in workplaces, leadership positions, media and other spaces contributes to a culture of invisibility and ongoing stigma about people with disabilities. Disability Pride is about celebrating differing abilities as a way to positively influence and change the conversation about disability and end the stigma surrounding disabilities.
The rich diversity within the disability community is acknowledged through the colors of the flag. The flag has a black background with five zigzag lines on the diagonal and colored blue, yellow, white, red, and green. The original flag was designed by Ann Magill with zigzag lines and was updated in October 2021 to straight lines due to disability access issues. According to Qi Creative, the colors and stripes on the flag represent the following:
- The Black Field: A color of mourning and rage; for those who are victims of Ableist violence, and also rebellion and protest
- The Five Colors: The variety of needs and experiences (Invisible and undiagnosed disabilities, physical disabilities, neurodivergence, psychiatric disabilities, sensory disabilities)
- The Parallel Stripes: Solidarity within the Disability Community and all its differences
- The Diagonal Band: “Cutting across” barriers that separate disabled people; creativity and light cutting through the darkness”
During the month of July, we encourage you to find ways to amplify the voices of people with disabilities in your personal and work lives. Choose to be inclusive, choose to support and acknowledge the challenges and excellence of people with disabilities. Challenge yourself to think of ways in which you can help celebrate the lives of people with disabilities this month and throughout the year.