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  • Saskia Müller

The History of Disability Pride

Disability Pride Month has been celebrated every July in the UK since 2017. It is a month for people in the disabled community to celebrate being proud and celebrate being unapologetically themselves. Disability Pride Month stands to recognise the obstacles that individuals with disabilities overcome. You don’t have to have a disability to join in with pride month, anyone can stand as an ally, and allies play an important role in increasing awareness in the wider world.

 

How did it all begin?

Disability Pride was initially celebrated for a day in July in 1990, Boston USA; this was the same year as the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, before gaining its first pride month in 2015. Since then, it has become an international movement not only for people in the disabled community to celebrate themselves, but also for raising awareness among wider communities about the struggles that disabled people face in a society that is not built to accommodate them

 

The Flag

The Disability Pride’s flag has vibrant colours to symbolise the various experiences and needs within the disabled community, such as invisible disabilities, sensory disabilities, physical disabilities, developmental disabilities and mental illnesses. The band shape of the colours represents the barriers disabled people face and have to navigate through. In order of appearance from bottom to top:


Red represents physical disabilities.

Gold represents neurodiversity.

White stands for non-visible and undiagnosed disabilities.

Blue represents emotional and psychiatric disabilities, including mental illness, anxiety and depression.

Green stands for sensory disabilities, including deafness, blindness, audio processing disorder and all other sensory disabilities.

The charcoal background is to represent people in the community who have experienced ableism and is to protest against this.



An image of the disability pride flag. There are five diagonal stripes on a black background, from the top left corner to the bottom right. From the bottom up the stripes are red, gold, white, blue and green.

An image of the disability pride flag. There are five diagonal stripes on a black background, from the top left corner to the bottom right. From the bottom up the stripes are red, gold, white, blue and green.


Ableism 

Ableism occurs when people are characterised and defined by their disabilities, which creates discrimination and social prejudice surrounding members of the disabled community. Ableism favours non-disabled people, based on the idea that being non-disabled is the default. The best way to counteract and eradicate ableism is to have the presence of disability culture within the community and to celebrate the diversity of the community, which is why Disability Pride Month is so important.

 

How to celebrate and support this month

  • Learn and educate yourself about Disability First language – for years people had been taught to use people first language ‘people with disabilities’ however, the disabled community has been pushing for the use of Disability First Language, ‘disabled people’. The phrase “disabled people” puts disability at the front and centre and gives individuals the agency to live authentically. 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 the default.

  • Follow Disability Activists on social media – engage with and support their posts. Every like, comment and share is contributing to support for activists fighting for increased visibility, policy changes, accessibility improvements, and social acceptance.

  • Read books by disabled authors – there is no better way to learn about disabilities than from disabled peoples shared lived experiences.

  • Donate or volunteer to charities for disabled people - charities such as Scope, Sense or Mind just to name a few, are fantastic charities to get involved with for disability pride.

  • Join in at local disability pride events – is your local town or city putting on any events for pride month?

 

 

With more than 14 million disabled people in the UK alone, there is plenty to celebrate this Disability Pride Month. However you decide to celebrate the month, be mindful that disability pride is there to recognise all of the obstacles and discrimination that disabled people continue to overcome every day. 

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