Happy Disability Pride Month from SRNA! Although Disability Pride Month has been celebrated for over 30 years, many people still don’t know about its history and importance. Emily Ladau, author of Demystifying Disability, described disability pride as “about holding space for both the beauty and the complexity of being disabled. Existing in a disabled body in a world that doesn’t always accept it means that it’s a radical act to honor my disability as an identity, and to celebrate the history and culture that has contributed to so much of who I am.”
Today, we are sharing the history of Disability Pride Month, perspectives on disability pride from members of the SRNA community, and how you can take action.
July became known as Disability Pride Month after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990. The ADA was landmark legislation signed by President George H. W. Bush that offers disabled people basic protections from discrimination. July 1990 marked a major step forward. However, disability rights issues still exist, and continued activism is needed to ensure a better future for disabled people.
Disability Pride Month has its own flag representing the disabled community, designed by Ann Magill. The flag has a black background with stripes of red, yellow, white, blue, and green angled at a diagonal from the top left to the bottom right side. There are so many different experiences of being disabled, and each color included in the flag has meaning. The black field represents lives lost and the violence experienced by disabled people, the diagonal band represents how disabled people “cut across” barriers, and each color represents different ways that disabilities can be experienced. Learn more about the disability pride flag and what each color represents.
“Disability Pride Month is a month when we can celebrate disabled people, something we don’t see happen often. When I was first diagnosed with transverse myelitis and in the hospital, I had no desire to interact with anyone else with a disability. I had been taught by society that disability was bad, that it was undesirable. I would not have willingly identified myself as disabled in the beginning. I rejected it. I worked so hard in rehab to get back to “normal.” As I began to adjust to my new life as a wheelchair user, as someone with a physical disability, I really had to fight hard against the internalized ableism I felt. I had to learn to see myself as worthy. My worth as a human being was not determined by whether I was walking or rolling, whether my hands worked or not. Disability Pride Month helps challenge negative societal perspectives on disability and highlights the many wonderful people with disabilities, and also raises awareness about ableism and the barriers we face. This month, non-disabled people should listen to disabled people, share our stories, and fight back against inaccessibility and ableism.” – GG deFiebre
“My disability is an integral part of my identity; I would not be who I am without my disability. Disability Pride means being unapologetically proud of my identity as a disabled person. Disabled people are the largest minority group on the planet. Therefore, we are somehow both everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Ableism is pervasive, and many people don’t even recognize certain attitudes and behaviors as ableist. Disability is too often viewed as a negative, but the disability experience contains so many positives. The world needs to recognize disability as an identity worth including and celebrating. Others can make a difference this Disability Pride Month by supporting disabled creators on social media! Following disabled people and listening to what we have to say is a fantastic way to learn about the disability experience.” – Sarah Todd Hammer
“Accepting my disability has directly correlated to my disability pride. For the longest time I’ve felt this inner battle between my life before becoming a quadriplegic and my life after. I didn’t fit in with the able-bodied community as I once had, and I didn’t feel like I fit in with the spinal cord injury community either. Over the years I’ve been able to accept my unique disability, I’ve found a feeling of understanding and community within the rare neuroimmune sector of disabilities. This has strengthened my understanding for the fact that the disability community is so different, yet we all strive to make the world a more accessible place. A big part of disability pride, for me, is getting out into society and living my life, the way I want to and how I can with my disability. I used to get so upset with having to use a mobility device, fearing others would think less of me or judge me for using a mobility scooter rather than my manual wheelchair all the time, because I had never seen anyone else like me using it. These small moments and interactions with people and businesses give us the opportunity to educate society, and even others trying to accept their own disabilities, that having a disability isn’t a life ending event, it just allows you adapt and to find new ways of living a meaningful life.” – Janelle Hewelt
Whether you just learned about it today or have been celebrating for years, there are several ways you can take action this Disability Pride Month:
- Reflect: What are some different ideas you have been confronted with or held around disability? Consider how ableism can show up in everyday life.
- Educate: Learn more about disability history by reading, watching, or listening to media created by disabled people. Start with books like Becoming Heumann, movies like Crip Camp, or podcasts like Access All.
- Amplify: Encourage others to learn about disability, support disabled voices, share the disabled pride flag, and continue to stay engaged all year long. Show others that you care with our Disability is Not a Bad Word and The Future is Accessible shirts and sweatshirts.
- Create: Make your social media posts more inclusive and consider how your events and gatherings could be more accessible.