July has been an important month in the history of disability rights ever since President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law in 1990. For more on the ADA, see our History of the ADA research guide. The law provides a broad array of civil rights protections for people with disabilities, including prohibitions against employment discrimination and mandates to make public accommodations accessible. The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 expanded the definition of "disability," extending the law's protection to more people. While barriers and discrimination continue to exist (see this article by NYU Law professor Adam M. Samaha for more insight), the ADA has had a profound impact on the ability of people with disabilities to participate in public life.
This landmark law prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities, and in July of that same year, the first Disability Pride Day was celebrated in Boston. Since then, July has been marked as Disability Pride Month with parades and celebrations throughout the nation to mark the anniversary of the monumental law. Although Disability Pride Month is not yet a nationally recognized holiday, in honor of the 25th anniversary of the ADA, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared July Disability Pride Month in 2015. Disability Pride Month is an important time to honor the diversity and uniqueness of each person in the disability community and celebrate people who have disabilities. (see National Health Council)
Image: Disability Pride Flag, designed by Ann Magill. A charcoal grey/almost-black flag crossed diagonally from top left to bottom right by a “lightning bolt” band divided into parallel stripes of five colors: light blue, yellow, white, red, and green. There are narrow bands of the same black between the colors. The symbolism: The Black Field: Mourning for those who've suffered and died from Ableist violence, and also rebellion. The Zigzag Band: How disabled people must move around and past barriers, and our creativity in doing so. The Five Colors: the variety of Disability, our needs and experiences (Mental Illness, Neurodiversity, Invisible and Undiagnosed Disabilities, Physical Disability, and Sensory Disabilities). The Parallel Stripes: Solidarity within the Disability Community, despite our differences.