Disability Pride Month

July is Disability Pride Month!

The National Council of Independent Living (NCIL) is an organization that promotes the advancement of disability rights and independence for people with disabilities.  This organization provides a toolkit and resources about July's Disability Pride Month.

Let's find out more about this awareness month.

Definition of Disability Pride Month

According to NCIL:

"Disability Pride is the idea that people with disabilities should be proud of their disabled identity. People with disabilities are the largest and most diverse minority within the population, representing all abilities, ages, races, ethnicities, religions and socio-economic backgrounds.

Disability pride focuses on the social model of disability. The disability community views the social model as more positive than the medical model, which is often used to subdue and/or place the individual in a less-empowered role."


Disability Pride Month grew from the Community's demand for rights that resulted in the passage of the American Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 by President George Bush. Make sure to read Bill Bowman's blog about the ADA.

The first pride day event was in Boston in 1990.

In 2004, Chicago held the first Disability Pride parade, fashioned after the LGBTQ+ Pride Parades that have garnered so much publicity for the LGBTQ+ Community.  Placing human faces in the forefront of a movement can be scary, but is so necessary to consolidate support for a Community's rights.

In 2015, the first Disability Pride Month was established.  Though Disability Pride Month follows immediately after LGBTQ+ Pride Month, it is much less well-known.

Mythological Medical Model Versus Independent Living Paradigm

Much of the problem with the public's perception of people with disabilities arises from the long-established, but mythological "Medical Model."

According to NCIL, the Medical Model erroneously depicts people with disabilities as follows:

  • Problem Definition:  "Physical or mental impairment; lack of vocational skill, lack of education, lack of socio-economic status, lack of political and cultural skills"
  • Focus:  "In the individual (individual is “broken” or “sick” and needs to “fixed” or “cured” to “fit” into society)"
  • Solution:  "Professional interventions; treatment; “case management” or volunteer work based on pity and related attitudes"
  • Social role:  "Individual with a disability is a “patient,” “client,” or recipient of charity; in many situations, the social role is non-existent"
  • Controller:  "Professional"
  • Desired Outcomes:  "Maximum self-care (or “ADL” — activities of daily living as used in occupational therapeutic sense); gainful employment in the vocational rehabilitation system; no “social misfits” or no “manipulative clients”"

In contrast, the Independent Living Paradigm seeks to advance the sovereignity of the individual as follows:

  • Problem Definition:  "Dependence upon professionals, family members and others; hostile attitudes and environments; lack of legal protection; lack of recognition of inherent worth of people with disabilities (stereotypes)"
  • Focus:  "In the socio-economic, political, and cultural environment; in the physical environment; in the medical, rehabilitation, service delivery or charity processes themselves (dependency-creating)."
  • Solution:  "1) Advocacy; 2) barrier removal; 3) consumer-control over options and services; 4) peer role models and leaders; 5) self-help — all leading to equitable socio-economic, cultural and political options."
  • Social role:  "Family and community members; “consumers” or “customers,” “users” of services and products — just like anyone else."
  • Controller:  "Person with the disability or his/her choice of another individual or group."
  • Desired Outcomes:  "Independence through control over ACCEPTABLE options for living in an integrated community of choice; pride in unique talents and attributes of each individual; positive disability identity."

The battle to change perceptions from the Medical Model to the Independent Living Paradigm is why Disability Pride Month is so important!

If you have any comments or questions, please leave them down below!

Books for Disability Pride Month

Special Stories for Disability Awareness, book cover
The Power of Disability, book cover
Disability Friendly: How to Move from Clueless to Inclusive , book cover
Disability Pride Dispatches From a Post-ADA World, book cover
Empowering Students With Hidden Disabilities a Path to Pride and Success, book cover