July is Disability Pride Month in the United States, so let’s take a second to consider what that means. What is Disability Pride Month, and why should it matter to all of us? To begin with, over 1 billion people comprise the global disability community. By numbers, they’re the most expansive and diverse minority group globally. They represent all age groups, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, religions, and income brackets. 

As such, we can all commit to celebrating their differences by finding common ground. And that’s what Disability Pride Month is all about. So, naturally, it helps to understand what led to this special day and why it’s now globally recognized. We start with a short history of the celebration and how it directly relates to other noteworthy causes.  

Disability Pride: One Essential Part of a Universal Cause

People with disabilities have struggled with social stigma and biases for centuries. So, it’s unsurprising that disability closely intertwines with the civil rights movement. This year’s Disability Pride Month marks the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), culminating decades of unwavering commitment by disability rights advocates.

The world is catching on by celebrating people with disabilities and their diversity of experiences and struggles. And fortunately, the signing of the ADA provided a rallying point for them to demand full inclusion in society. The ADA lays out provisions for increased accessibility to physical infrastructure and, more recently, it’s interpreted to include digital accessibility. 

Disability Pride is also intersectional. It recognizes that how societies treat people with disabilities also reflects how they treat other marginalized sectors, including women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community. Thus, it pushes for an integrated approach that ensures full access for everyone.

The Disability Pride Flag is Flying High

Disability Pride has its own flag, just like the LGBTQ pride movement. The original flag, designed by Ann Magill, featured a brightly-colored lightning bolt on a black background.

However, after receiving feedback that the color combination can negatively impact people with epilepsy, Magill redesigned the flag with muted colors that symbolize different facets of the daily lives of people with disabilities.  

  • Charcoal gray background: In memory of the victims of ableist abuse and violence, including children or those killed because of their perceived usefulness to society
  • Diagonal band: Cutting across the barriers that keep the disabled from full participation in society
  • Red strip: Physical disabilities (chronic pain/fatigue, mobility impairment, loss of limbs)
  • Gold stripe: Neurodivergence (autism, ADHD, dyslexia)
  • White stripe: Undiagnosed and invisible disabilities
  • Blue stripe: Psychiatric disabilities (depression, PTSD, anxiety, etc.)

The Disability Pride flag is now available in the public domain and is seen in Disability Pride Month parades worldwide. To that end, disability pride itself has entered the world stage, as you’ll learn in the next section. 

Disability Pride is a Global Phenomenon

The first Disability Pride Parade was in Boston on October 6, 1990. Over 400 people marched, wheeled, or drove to Boston Common to show people that disability is part of the human experience. While the first Disability Pride Parade was a success, it took a while for communities in other cities to host respective parades. 

Chicago has the longest-running series of Disability Pride Parades, starting in 2004. Other major U.S. cities, including Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, and Buffalo, have organized at least two Disability Pride Parades since 2012. The movement has also spread across the Atlantic, with Brighton, England, hosting its first event in 2017.

Disability Pride Month symbolizes that people with disabilities are also people with abilities—that they’re proactive members of society working tirelessly to break down all barriers that stand in the way of full inclusion. Fortunately, numerous major U.S. cities are hosting 2023 celebrations you can attend. 

Notable 2023 Celebrations Include:

  • New York: Disability Unite Festival
  • Pennsylvania: Disability Pride PA
  • Illinois: Disability Pride Parade 
  • Missouri: FestAbility: A Celebration of Disabilities

How to Honor This Special Month & the People it Celebrates

1. Educate Yourself About Ableism

At its core, Ableism is a belief system that assumes people with disabilities need fixing. As a result, it devalues and discriminates against this critical population group. 

Learn The Appropriate Terminology: Two phrases often describe people in the disability community:  disabled people and people with disabilities. So, which one should you use? Always use “people with disabilities” because they’re people first. By contrast, the phrase “disabled people” identifies a person by their disability, which may be considered impolite and demoralizing. In other words, a person isn’t a disability—they have a disability.

Read Up on the Subject: Awareness and education aren’t possible without research, and reading books is a crucial way to understand disability pride better. See recommended reading below.

  • “Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens” (edited by Marieke Nijkamp)
  • “Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories From the Twenty-First Century” (edited by Alice Wong)
  • “Haben: The Deafblind Woman who Conquered Harvard Law” by Haben Grima
  • “Sitting Pretty: The View From My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body” (by Rebekah Taussig)
  • “We Are Never Meeting in Real Life” (by Samantha Irby)
  • “The Pretty One” (by Keah Brown)
  • “The Silence Between Us” (by Alison Gervais)

2. Embrace & Integrate Digital accessibility

Fortunately, assistive tech tools are widely available to help make your website and digital assets inclusive of everyone, most notably, people with disabilities. Enhancing digital accessibility can also help your company comply with the ADA, WCAG, and all other web accessibility laws. Above all else, this technology enables you to empower people with disabilities with access to an equitable web and digital experience. We should all take pride in promoting that philosophy.

3. Participate in Disability Pride Month

What’s the best way to embrace disability? Find the parade or celebration near you and join the fun! Whether you have a disability or not, this is a beautiful opportunity to help create a more inclusive world.

Here are a few notable events that may be near you: 

Summary: Let’s Honor Disability Pride Month Every Day

Disability pride month may only happen once annually, but we should embrace its message every day. It’s a blueprint for promoting inclusivity through raised awareness and empathy for our fellow human beings. It implores us to promote physical and digital accessibility for people of all abilities. And that’s a principle all businesses and individuals should be proud to support.

See how UserWay can help you honor Disability Pride Month all year round. 

UserWay: Disability Pride Personified

At UserWay, disability pride starts with improving digital accessibility for companies like yours. UserWay’s AI assistive technology tools make the Internet more accessible for everyone, including people with disabilities. So let’s take pride in helping our citizens thrive in the digital world. Learn how working together with UserWay can help you achieve this essential goal.

Common FAQs

What’s The Main Purpose of Disability Pride Month?

Disability Pride Month is a day that embraces and honors people’s uniqueness by increasing visibility and awareness of the positive pride people with disabilities feel. For people with disabilities, this celebration inspires self-approval and champions every type of disability. In addition to the celebratory day, Disability Pride Month also helps encourage public conversations about disabilities and their related challenges. 

When Does Disability Pride Month Take Place?

People celebrate Disability Pride Month every July. It’s an opportunity for everyone to celebrate, raise awareness and highlight voices during the month (and beyond) with our 

What Are the Origins of Disability Pride Month?

Disability Pride began as a celebration in Boston in 1990, the same year the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law. Subsequently, it evolved into a month-long celebration culminating in 2015, 25 years after the ADA was signed.