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What is Disability Pride… And How to Display It

People with disabilities are the largest and most diverse minority within the population, representing all abilities, ages, races, ethnicities, religions and socio-economic backgrounds. Have you heard of “Disability Pride?” Do you have it and display it?

“Disability pride” has been defined as accepting and honoring each person’s uniqueness and seeing it as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity.

Disability Pride is an integral part of movement-building, and a direct challenge to systemic ableism and stigmatizing definitions of disability.

wheelchair user on beach with balloons

What Does Disability Pride Mean?

Since disability pride is a fairly new concept, it is important for people with disabilities to be proudly visible in the community, according to the Disability Community Resource Center.

Oftentimes, people think about a disability as a medical diagnosis. For example: “My disability is a spinal cord injury” or “my disability is depression” or “my disability is a brain injury.” Disability is more than just the physical and/or mental effects on the body. Disability is more than the pills that you take or the doctors that you see. It’s a part of who you are. However, a disability is not the only identity you have; of course, you may identify yourself by gender, race, height and so on. All of your identities are important and have value.

Disability Pride Month

July is Disability Pride Month! This annual observance is used to promote visibility and mainstream awareness of the positive pride felt by people with disabilities. Using bold images and strong words, disability pride awareness dates, parades and festivals aim to uplift and challenge. Pride comes from celebrating our heritage, disability culture, the unique experiences that we have as people with differing abilities and the contributions that we offer society.

The first Disability Pride Day was held in Boston in 1990, and the first U.S.-based Disability Pride Parade was held in Chicago in 2004. Today, Disability Pride Parades are held in a number of places nationwide, such as Los Angeles, New York City, San Antonio, Madison and Brighton, among many others. These events celebrate “disability culture” with the intention to positively influence the way people think about and/or define disability and to end the stigma of disability.

“There is a tremendous need to create a counter-culture that teaches new values and beliefs, and acknowledges the dignity and worth of all human beings. Disability pride is a direct response to this need.” – Sarah Triano, National Disabled Students Union.

watercolor graphic of wheelchair user ADA symbol

Challenging Negative Attitudes About Disabled People

Sadly, because of misinformation and misunderstanding, people with disabilities are often not thought of as equals or valued members of society. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free.” As long as people feel ashamed of who they are, they will never realize the true equality and freedom they desire and can achieve. Take pride in yourself!

Originally published by Disabled World. Adapted and reprinted with permission.

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