History of the Disability Pride Flag

Disability pride is about accepting and honoring each person’s uniqueness and seeing it as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity

July 3, 2023

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. This landmark law prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Disability Pride initially started as a day of celebration on that year. The first official celebration of Disability Pride Month occurred in July 2015, which also marked the 25th anniversary of the ADA.

The original Disability Pride flag was created in 2019 by writer Ann Magill, who has cerebral palsy. Flags can raise awareness and are a symbol of solidarity, pride and acceptance, and the Disability Pride flage has is no exception. Magill had attended an event for the 20th anniversary of the ADA and was disappointed that it was confined to the basement and grounds of an independent living center — instead of out in public. The experience motivated her to create a Disability Pride Flag.

Disability Pride Flag 2019

Original Disability Pride Flag Designed by Ann Magill in 2019

The flag featured brightly colored zigzagging stripes over a black background. The zigzag represented how people with disabilities have to maneuver around all the barriers they face. 

However, when viewed on the phone or a device, the design prompted symptoms in individuals with visually triggered disabilities. At the same time, the community offered suggestions.

Magill refined the visual elements with these suggestions in mind. The new version straightened the strips and muted the colors. The stripes were also reordered to accommodate people with red-green colorblindness.

The flag is considered a collaborative design effort, with Magill saying the new design truly represents the represents the community because the community came together to solve a problem. Magill has waived her copyright and entered this flag into the public domain, so that everyone is free to use and remix it.

Disability Pride Flag 2021

Disability Pride Flag 2021

Each color stripe has a meaning:

  • Red - physical disabilities
  • Gold - neurodiversity
  • White - invisible disabilities and disabilities that haven't yet been diagnosed
  • Blue - emotional and psychiatric disabilities, including mental illness, anxiety, and depression
  • Green - for sensory disabilities, including deafness, blindness, lack of smell, lack of taste, audio processing disorder, and all other sensory disabilities

The faded black background mourning and rage for victims of ableist violence and abuse. The diagonal Bband cuts across the walls and barriers that separate the disabled from normate society, also representing light and creativity cutting through the darkness.