Disability Pride Month


Image description: Disability Pride flag, designed by Ann Magill, a disabled woman with cerebral palsy. The flag is grey with a diagonal band from the top left to the bottom right corner. The band is made up of five parallel stripes in red, yellow, white, blue, and green, each symbolizing different parts of the disability community.

July is Disability Pride Month and if you’re not familiar with why this month is so important for the disability community, here’s an overview.

History of Disability Pride Month

On July 26, 1990, the American Disabilities Act was passed with a mandate to break down the barriers that prevent people with disabilities from full participation in society. In Canada, the Accessible Canada Act became law in 2019 and while these are welcome developments, there is always more to be done. Although it’s not yet recognized in Canada, there is a motion before the Ontario legislature to make it official and it would be fantastic to see it happen in every province and nationwide.

In 2021, the BC Government passed provincial accessibility legislation, a brief piece of legislation that represented a green light for more prescriptive regulation on dimensions of accessibility including employment, service delivery, built environment and others.  For an excellent overview of what’s been happening here in BC, read Trish Kelly’s excellent blog, The Future is Accessible and the Future is Now.

Consider Disability Pride Month as an invitation to celebrate the history, experiences, strength, and diversity of the disability community. It is not a plea for pity.

The short history of the disability flag is an excellent example of “nothing about us without us”. When Ann Magill, a writer with cerebral palsy first created the design with a zigzag pattern, she didn’t know that when it was viewed on mobile, it was causing seizures for some users. She put out a call to the community and updated the design in 2021 to reflect their requests for a more accessible design.

Each colour of the Disability Pride Flag represents a different type of disability: physical (red), cognitive and intellectual (yellow/gold), non-apparent and undiagnosed (white), psychosocial, (blue), and sensory disabilities including deafness, blindness, lack of smell, lack of taste, audio processing disorder and more (green). The charcoal background represents mourning and anger for victims of ableist violence and abuse, and the coloured bands are placed diagonally to convey persons with disabilities “cutting across” societal barriers.

What Disability Pride Month Means to Me

Looking at this image, I identify with the green, yellow/gold and black background. I’ve spent much of my life feeling insufficient so taking pride in myself is hard. I can hear 50 percent of the world if the conditions are ideal, but I’m often in situations with multiple barriers and become quickly fatigued by having to ask for clear speech and captions on Zoom calls.

It’s part of why I’m glad to be working with the team at Untapped Accessibility. I get to witness accessibility in action on team calls and when an ASL interpreter was a few moments late on a recent call, we didn’t begin until they arrived. This to me, is accessibility in action. Not when it’s convenient, but as a guiding philosophy.

This Disability Pride Month, I choose to celebrate the panoramic attention that is part of having ADHD, the way I seek solutions in every scenario, and my deep commitment to social justice. Being mostly deaf gives me the opportunity to invite slower, more intentional conversations that lead to meaningful connections. I sometimes joke that I’m a cyborg because my hearing assistive technology contains AI. This reminds me that humour is a large part of how I navigate the world and the funniest people I know are in the disability community.

I’m proud to be part of a stellar team of accessibility leaders and associates at Untapped Accessibility. With the leadership of Trish Kelly and Chris Lytle and the insights of Farshīd Sādātsharīfī and the rest of the team, it’s becoming easier to imagine a more inclusive world for people with disabilities.

If you’re curious about how Untapped Accessibility can help you move from celebration into action, reach out to us at info@untappedaccessibiliy.ca.

Happy Disability Pride Month!