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Calling for Solidarity

Disability Pride Month is held in July every year, Disability Pride Month — Qi Creative Inc. this event largely recognised in the USA and UK that an celebrates visibility and the accomplishments of our disabled community. It’s not widely  known or celebrated here in Australia, it’s something I’d love to encourage more people to acknowledge and support.

During my research and reading of this year’s occasion, I stumbled across the Disability Pride Flag a symbol created by disabled woman Ann  Magill who sought to better capture the true identity and diversity of our community.

It will come as no surprise, but I love the flag. I particularly love the meaning behind it.

Having a disability can mean so many things – it can be a physical, mental, sensory, intellectual or invisible impairment. So while the wheelchair symbol is easily identifiable, it’s not truly reflective of everyone in our community.

But the flag does. The five colours reflect the variety of needs and experiences; the ‘lightning bolt’ speaks to our collective frustrations in breaking down barriers and overcoming bias, accessibility or inclusion issues. However, it’s the meaning behind the parallel stripes that really had me reflecting.

Symbolising solidarity within the disability community, I realised it wasn’t something that we have traditionally been very good at.

As mentioned, the disability community is incredibly diverse. Therefore, we often find ourselves breaking up into smaller quantifiable groups – quadriplegics in one corner, those living on the autism spectrum in another, intellectual and learning difficulties, and so on.

We really have got into a habit our siloing ourselves into smaller, bite-size groups. In some cases it makes total sense because each of these disability areas require different things; for example, my accessibility issues are (generally) not the same as those with sight, hearing, or intellectual impairments.

But the problem with that is we lose the power that comes with being the world’s largest, most diverse and most cross-cutting minority. We are purposely ‘watering down’ our influence: Power in Numbers.

As a community there are some many commonalities between our experiences. There’s so many things we can relate to, including fighting against assumptions and demanding better accessibility and equality.

These commonalities exist between us and yet, by being divided, we lessen our ability to enact change.

We talk a lot about diversity within our disability community, but we really need to work on is our solidarity – improving how we can come together as allies to initiate and drive change within wider society. We have to stop working against each other. We’re the world’s largest minority and yet, by segmenting ourselves, we dilute our impact. If we can’t work together, how can we expect the able bodied in our society to do so?

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