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A Legacy of Disability Advocacy

July is national Disability Pride Month, and our commonwealth has a strong legacy of advocacy for individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Did you know the very first Disability Pride Day was held in Boston, Massachusetts on October 6, 1990? In a public demonstration, more than 400 people marched, drove, wheeled, and moved from City Hall to Boston Common highlighting disability as a natural part of our collective human experience. Disability Pride Month now occurs every July commemorating the passing of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act in July 1990.

For many years, members of the Riverside community have been loud and strong advocates for those living with disabilities, as well as the industry of caregivers who support them. Thanks to one very passionate local advocate, Jay, the Disability Pride Flag will fly proudly at One Cottage Street throughout the month of July. Jay is a local student and a participant in Riverside’s Pre-Employment Transition Services (PRE-ETS) Program. He very thoughtfully encouraged our Riverside administration to be more active participants in the Disability Pride movement this year by flying the newly redesigned Disability Pride Flag in a prominent location on our building. You’ll find it displayed in a window facing Cottage Street on the third floor of our building!

image of Disability Pride Flag

What do the colors on the Disability Pride Flag represent?

  • The faded black background represents "the anger and mourning over the eugenics and the neglect that disabled people have to fight against."
  • Red represents physical disabilities.
  • Gold is for neurodiversity.
  • White represents invisible disabilities and disabilities that haven't yet been diagnosed.
  • Blue stands for emotional and psychiatric disabilities, including mental illness, anxiety, and depression.
  • Green is for sensory disabilities, including deafness, blindness, lack of smell, lack of taste, audio processing disorder, and all other sensory disabilities.

Throughout Disability Pride Month, we stand proudly with Jay and many others in celebration of those in our community who have different abilities. Here’s how you can celebrate Disability Pride Month:

  • Engage with disabled artists. There are many disabled authors, musicians and visual artists of all types. Many of the clients at Riverside enjoy making and displaying their art in our program spaces and more broadly throughout the local community.
  • Learn more about ableism and how you can fight against it. Living with a disability can be difficult. While we have made great strides in this country to be more inclusive towards those living with disabilities, discrimination still exist. Learn how you can be a disability advocate.

  • Be a volunteer or donate to organizations that support individuals living with disabilities. At Riverside, we empower people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live rich and full lives. Learn how you can get involved at RSI!

  • Attend a Disability Pride Parade or event near you.