Written by Krishna Sabaratnam
July is Disability Pride Month and it is to honour and commemorate the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was declared by law on July 26th, 1990. July serves as a testament to the progress made in advancing disability rights and the ongoing work to ensure equal opportunities and inclusion for people with disabilities. While the Americans with Disability Act is a legal framework that mandates accessibility and non-discrimination, Disability Pride Month is a social movement that aims to celebrate disability as a valuable aspect of human diversity.
Disability Pride Month celebrates the empowerment of individuals with disabilities through self-acceptance and self-advocacy. Despite progress, ableist views persist, leading to stigma and shame. Respecting the dignity of disabled individuals requires recognizing their fundamental rights, autonomy, and agency, ensuring fair, compassionate, and equal treatment for the entire disabled community. Disability Pride Month shifts focus from limitations to community strengths, embracing uniqueness and diversity.
In October 2021, creator Ann Magill unveiled the new Disability Pride flag, representing the strength and unity of the disability community. Her initial zigzag pattern, symbolizing barriers, was redesigned with input from the disability community, now showcasing muted colours and no zigzag motif, to symbolize accessibility and acceptance.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the flag's meaning
The redesigned Disability Pride flag features diagonal pattern lines in red, gold, white, blue, and green, each representing a different form of disability. The parallel stripes symbolize intercommunal solidarity, while the diagonal positioning signifies disabled people's ability to overcome societal barriers. The design additionally emphasizes light cutting through the darkness.
The order of appearance from top to bottom:
- Green highlights sensory disabilities such as blindness, low vision, and deafness, etc.
- Blue represents psychiatric disabilities such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, etc.
- White symbolizes non-visible or undiagnosed disabilities such as chronic fatigue, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia.
- Gold represents cognitive and intellectual disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder, brain injuries, attention-deficit/hyperactivity, etc.
- Red embodies physical disabilities such as stroke, arthritis, spinal cord injuries, etc.
These colours are displayed on a black or faded charcoal background, honouring, those within the disability community who have passed away due to ableism, violence, suicide, illness, and more. The faded background also symbolizes the history of protest and mistreatment experienced by the disabled community.