Disability Pride Month 2024: Embracing Diversity, Honoring Achievements, and Encouraging Advocacy

heading divider
Text: Disability Pride Month in white, outlined in dark grey. A flag featuring horizontal stripes in green, blue, white, gold, and red on a charcoal black background. Each color symbolizes different disabilities, including sensory, emotional, non-visible, neurodiversity, and physical disabilities, respectively. The dark backdrop signifies mourning and protest against mistreatment of the disabled community.

July is Disability Pride Month, a time dedicated to honoring the history, achievements, experiences, and struggles of the disability community. This month-long celebration marks the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), landmark legislation passed in July 1990. The ADA has been instrumental in breaking down barriers to inclusion in society, paving the way for greater accessibility and equality. This makes July a meaningful time to reflect on its impact and celebrate the diverse experiences of people with disabilities.

Disability Pride Month recognizes that people with disabilities represent over 27% of the United States adult population, making them the largest minority group in the country. It celebrates the unique strengths and contributions of individuals with disabilities while acknowledging the discrimination and marginalization they often face based on their disability, race, gender, sexual orientation, or other intersecting factors.

Transforming Disability Challenges into Action

One inspiring voice in this community is Sarah Stempky-Kime, Managing Partner and Trial Attorney at Christensen Law. Sarah passionately advocates for the rights of all disabled people, a cause deeply personal to her. Her son, Alistair, suffered from chronic and severe epileptic seizures as an infant, necessitating a functional hemispherectomy—a brain surgery that essentially “turned off” the left half of his brain. This profound experience shaped Sarah’s activism and deepened her commitment to helping other parents navigate the challenges of childhood brain injury, epilepsy, and raising children with disabilities,

Sarah’s involvement with the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan and the Brain Recovery Project highlights her ongoing efforts to educate and support others. “If I can help educate or bring attention to the issues of epilepsy and brain injuries, and help reframe people’s thinking from fear to hope,” she says, “then I am happy to do it.”

Disability Pride Month is not only about individual stories but also about collective action and celebration. The month encourages people with disabilities to embrace their identity and recognize that their unique perspectives are invaluable to society. Disabilities are a beautiful and natural part of human diversity, and activities during Disability Pride Month aim to inspire all citizens to celebrate the contributions of persons with disabilities, promote inclusivity, and foster greater respect and understanding.

Symbolic Stripes: The Disability Pride Flag

A flag featuring horizontal stripes in green, blue, white, gold, and red on a charcoal black background. Each color symbolizes different disabilities, including sensory, emotional, non-visible, neurodiversity, and physical disabilities, respectively. The dark backdrop signifies mourning and protest against mistreatment of the disabled community.

Ann Magill

The latest iteration of the disability pride flag holds significant importance by emphasizing a range of experiences within the disability community through its diverse colors, Jordan LeVan, founder of The Apraxia Foundation, explained in an article featured in Good Housekeeping.

Here’s the symbolism behind each color, arranged from top to bottom:

  • Green signifies sensory disabilities.
  • Blue represents emotional and psychiatric disabilities.
  • White symbolizes non-visible and undiagnosed disabilities.
  • Gold denotes neurodiversity.
  • Red represents physical disabilities.

The flag features these stripes against a subdued charcoal black background, which serves to honor and mourn disabled individuals lost to ableism, violence, neglect, suicide, resistance, illness, and eugenics. This dark backdrop also symbolizes anger and protest of the mistreatment of the disabled community. According to the flag’s creator, Ann Magill, black additionally pays homage to the Jolly Roger flag, historically associated with rebellion.

How to Celebrate Disability Pride Month 2024

One meaningful way Michiganders can participate and demonstrate solidarity is by attending local events, including those listed below:

ADA Pride Event

Join the Michigan Statewide Independent Living Council, Madison Heights Arts Board,  Madison Heights Human Relations and Equity Commission, and Disability Network Eastern Michigan in celebrating the 34th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Show your ADA pride at this FREE event and enjoy live music, art activities, accessible yard games, a food truck and more

Saturday, July 13
1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Madison Heights Civic Center Park
360 W. 13 mile Road
Madison Heights, MI 48071
1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Graphic image of hand drawing with chalk, colorful. Text: Black text on yellow background, "ADA Pride Event 2024, Join us for Disability-Friendly Sports & Activities!"

Breaking Barriers: Disability Pride Month Community Celebration

This FREE event features a variety of activities, including:

  • Meet and greet with artists from the Breaking Barriers Art Exhibit
  • Speeches from members of the disability community
  • A disability pride-themed poetry slam (with registration available for poets with developmental disabilities)
  • Informational booths from statewide disability advocacy organizations
  • +  other exciting activities!

Friday, July 26
12:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Lansing Shuffle
Lansing, MI

Registration is Open flyer for the Breaking Barriers: Disability Pride Month Celebration event. The flyer features the following elements: Bold text at the top that reads "REGISTRATION IS OPEN" in dark green and orange, with a small calendar icon showing July 26. Below that, "BREAKING BARRIERS: Disability Pride Month Celebration" is written in bold orange text. The event location is listed as the Lansing Shuffle Food Hall & Social Club, with its logo displayed in the center. A rainbow-colored circle with diagonal stripes is placed near the center. Two images: one on the left of a smiling person with glasses standing next to artwork and another on the right of a smiling person in a denim jacket in front of colorful art. The event details state "bit.ly/bbreg24" for registration and "FREE and open to the public!" Logos for the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council (MiDDC) and Self Advocates of Michigan are at the bottom.

Disability Pride Month reminds us that disabilities are an integral part of human diversity. We invite you to join in the celebration, honor the achievements, and support the ongoing advocacy for the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities. Together, we can foster a community where all individuals are respected, valued, and empowered.

Resources for Disabled Michigan Residents