July is Disability Pride Month!
For the past 32 years, July has been an important month for the disability community. The Americans With Disabilities Act was passed on July 26th, 1990.
That year, Boston became the first city to celebrate Disability Pride Day with a parade. Since then cities across the country have followed suit with marches, pageants and parades. Additionally, in 2015, Mayor Bill De Blasio officially declared July as Disability Pride Month in New York City.
Disability is a spectrum encompassing a vast uniqueness of illnesses. However, it is important to recognize that, contrary to the societal norm, disability should not be seen as existing “without.”
As a proud disabled woman, I am reminded every day of the unique qualities that my Cerebral Palsy has allowed me to gain. I am empathetic, resilient, and skillfully adaptable.
A common misconception about Disability Pride Month is that it is trying to steal the spotlight from LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Disability and queerness are not mutually exclusive. The reality of disability is that we live in an infinite amount of intersecting identities. To celebrate disability is to celebrate queerness and vice versa.
Disability Pride Month is a chance for the community I call home to show you all of our beauty. It is also a time for all disabled people to unapologetically celebrate our bodies as they are. Whether you are disabled or an ally, Disability Pride Month is full of so much to celebrate.
How To Celebrate Disability Pride Month in July: Activities, Ideas, and More —
Learn about Ableism
Let’s get real — living as a disabled person is hard. Not only is there the lived reality of having a chronic illness, but our society has a long way to go when it comes to dismantling the negative connotations around disability.
Diversability is an amazing platform founded by Tiffany Yu , an activist who became disabled at 9 years old. The company was founded by and for disabled people along with those who support us. This particular blog post of theirs does an amazing job of dissecting the origins of ableism.
Learn about Disability First Language
When talking about or describing people in the disability community, you’ll often hear two different phrases being used:, “disabled people” vs. “people with disabilities”. The interchanging nature of these phrases perpetuates the lack of autonomy disabled people have over how we are represented and seen.
With both being common, it’s hard to know which one is the most appropriate to use.
Many people learned that People First language (like “people with disabilities”) was most appropriate to use, because it centered the person first and foremost.
For years, though, the disability community has been pushing for the use of Disability First language. The phrase “disabled people” puts disability at the front and center of who we are, and gives us the agency to live authentically with our diagnoses.
People First language, or the phrase “people with disabilities” otherizes and separates our disabled identity from who we are. This language and the use of phrases like “differently abled” perpetuate the idea that disability is synonymous with “less than”. We do not need different words to make disability more palatable.
This social media post from Disability Together and this often-cited article from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network are amazing at explaining the nuances of this issue.
People First vs. Disability First will continue to be a conversation within the disability community, as we are not a monolith.
Overall when in doubt about which language to use, the best rule of thumb is to ask someone how they would like to be referred. If you are in a situation where you cannot do that, Disability First language should be your default.
Read Books by Disabled Authors
There is no better way to learn about disabled people than from us directly. I especially recommend these two books written by disabled people about their experiences:
Demystifying Disability by Emily Ladau
“Disabled people are the world’s largest minority, an estimated 15 percent of the global population. But many of us–disabled and non-disabled alike–don’t know how to act, what to say, or how to be an ally to the disability community. Demystifying Disability is a friendly handbook on important disability issues.”
Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century edited by Alice Wong
“One in five people in the United States lives with a disability. Some disabilities are visible, others less apparent—but all are underrepresented in media and popular culture. Now, just in time for the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” activist Alice Wong brings together this urgent, galvanizing collection of contemporary essays by disabled people.”
There has been a big wave of films centered around disability receiving critical acclaim. This year “CODA” won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
CODA stands for Child of Deaf Adults. The film centers around Ruby, the only hearing member in her family. She rediscovers her passion for singing and wishes to pursue that in college. However, she struggles with gaining independence as her family depends on her to translate and keep their fishing business afloat.
This movie is a really beautiful depiction of the interpersonal realities of disability, as well as the importance of ensuring access for everyone.
You can watch CODA on Apple TV+
Call your Elected Officials about the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act.
In 2021 Senators Baldwin and Langevin introduced the Air Carrier Amendments Act which expands the ACAA that prohibits airlines from discriminating against passengers with disabilities.
According to AllWheelsUp, the amendment would expand the existing law to include the following:
- Require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to refer complaints to the Department of Justice so that individuals have the ability to seek redress through the court system; this is known as a private right of action.
- Require the DOT to levy civil penalties on airlines for committing violations.
- Ensure new aircrafts are designed to accommodate all individuals by requiring airlines to meet accessibility standards. This includes ensuring that there are accessible seating accommodations, safe boarding and deplaning, and visually accessible announcements.
We’ve created a simple guide to help you contact your representatives. When calling your representatives be sure to tell them about the experiences that your friends and family with disabilities have had while flying.
Donate to organizations that center disabled people and the causes that impact us.
As mentioned above, there is not one intersection in which disability is not present. Whether it is gun violence, reproductive rights, or marriage equality, disabled folks are fighting for the bare minimum of equality.
Below are a few organizations that you can support to help in the fight for disability justice:
Open Doors NYC
Open Doors is based out of a long-term care facility on Roosevelt Island. Their work is centered around their Reality Poets. The entire collective is composed of disabled creatives who use spoken word and art to bring awareness to disability justice. Many of the founding poets are survivors of gun violence. Over the course of the pandemic, the program created the campaign #NursingHomeLivesMatter. This initiative has been influential in shining a spotlight on how nursing home residents have been endangered and forgotten during the pandemic.
All Wheels Up
All Wheels Up works to create safe and accessible airline travel. Currently, they are the only organization in the world crash testing wheelchair tie-downs and wheelchairs for in-flight travel. Additionally, their Fly Safe Today program provides individuals with accessible in-flight safety equipment like the CARES Harness and the ADAPT swing for safe evacuations.
Rollettes Los Angeles
The Rollettes are a wheelchair dance team. Founded by Chelsie Hill in 2012, two years after her spinal cord injury, their mission is to inspire women to be boundless through dance. In their tenth year, The Rollettes hold all-inclusive dance classes for all abilities.
Every year, they hold the Rolletes Experience which is a weekend-long event. The event features speakers with a spectrum of disabilities discussing various topics like motherhood, mental health, and more.
Watch their dance highlight reel on YouTube. (You will not regret it!)
Attend a Disability Pride Month event.
Take to the streets and celebrate all things disability! Bedazzle your wheels, walker, or prosthetic, and do not be afraid. And allies — we want to see you too! Join the celebration because disability justice requires all of us.
Here are a few notable events:
New York: Disability Unite Festival
Pennsylvania: Disability Pride PA
Illinois: Disability Pride Parade
Missouri: FestAbility: A Celebration of Disabilities
California: Disability Pride LA
Washington: Disability Pride Month – Artistic Justice Showcase
Celebrate good news from the disability community.
In 2021, ahead of the Tokyo Paralympic games, the #WeAre15 campaign was launched. This landmark initiative brings “organizations from sport, human rights, policy, communications, business, arts, and entertainment, uniting to change attitudes and create more opportunities for persons with disabilities, as well as improve mobility and accessibility.”
The global campaign is already changing the conversation around disability. In total, the campaign's message has reached 80% of the world's population. Their powerful campaign launch video has garnered 750,000,000 views. The video is a poignant representation of how disabled people are just like everyone else.
There is so much inherent joy that exists within the disability community. Because we often face obstacles, our community is tight-knit and is always there to lend a helping hand. Whether it is sharing excess medications with those that need them, finding and connecting with those with similar diagnoses, or exchanging recommendations on disability-positive doctors, we seek to ensure people that they are never alone
Here are some articles that showcase the true light-filled spirit of disability:
- Activists Replaced Parisian Metro Maps to Prompt Action for Disabled Riders
- This Athlete Uses “Ninjasticking” To Bring Intersectionality To the Outdoors
Help ensure that your employer is disability inclusive
The National Organization on Disability (NOD) was founded in 1982 and was the first organization to represent anyone with a disability.
NOD has been compiling data on employment equality for years. The NOD employment tracker is available to anyone to anonymously assess benchmarks on disability inclusion. The tracker is available on their site, and depending on the results it will give you solutions on how your employer can reach missing benchmarks.
Hire Disabled People
Disabled people are capable of anything. We are artists, doctors, CEOs, and anything that you can think of. It is not enough that companies are Equal Opportunity Employers if they do not actually hire disabled people.
Black Disabled Creatives is a platform created by disabled model Jillian Mercado. In speaking to Buzzfeed News, Mercado said she “wanted to create a platform and a place where not only can creatives and brands hire these people, but people themselves who are submitting their work can get to know there’s a community like them, who are dedicated to their work, so that they can create a sort of community.”
Teach Students about Disability Justice using the “Crip Camp” documentary
Nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Documentary Feature”, “Crip Camp” is a film about “Camp Jened” which was a summer camp for disabled people. The film chronicles the stories of some of the camp attendees and how the conversations sparked there led to the modern disability justice movement.
A school curriculum, created by Dr. Bianca I. Laureano and Dr. Aiesha Turma, guides students in building their understanding of disability justice, ableism, and the importance of language in the movement,
Available in English and Spanish and tailored to Common Core Standards, it is an excellent addition to history and social studies curriculums.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Disability Pride Month?
Disability Pride Month is celebrated annually in July, the month that The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed in 1990. Disability Pride Month is a time for all disabled people to unapologetically celebrate our bodies as they are. Whether you are disabled or an ally, Disability Pride Month is full of so much to celebrate.
Is there a Disability Pride flag?
In 2019, Ann Magill designed the Disability Pride flag, but because of its recent creation, it is not yet widely used by the community.
The flag’s design features bolt lightning bolts and colors representing diverse parts of the disability community — and a black background representing suffering, rebellion, and protest.
You can learn more about the flag’s design and meaning from the American Federation for The Blind.
What are the Disability Pride Month colors?
There are no specific Disability Pride Month Colors. However, different disabilities do have colors associated with them to raise awareness. Some of these colors (blue, yellow, white, red, and green) are showcased in the Disability Pride flag.
What month is Disability Pride Month?
Disability Pride Month is celebrated in July every year. The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed in July of 1990 and that year Boston held the first Disability Pride Day celebration.