It seems like every week recently there has been another international, national, hour or minute that has been dedicated to some disability or other. Whether it be raising awareness, money or requiring a particular action. Everything just seems to be Purple at the minute. So let’s take a deeper look at what’s been going on, and why is it always purple?

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

If you weren’t already aware since 1992 the United Nations have formally referred to the 3rd December as International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). The United Nations said the theme for this year’s IDPD is “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”. This theme focuses on the empowering persons with disabilities for the inclusive, equitable and sustainable development envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Subsequently Purple Space took the opportunity to get big business and corporations to be more aware of the economic power of disabled people by lighting up their buildings purple, or flying a purple flag, or simply wearing something purple. What followed was a social media campaign and the hashtag #PurpleLightUp, you can find out more about the day with the brochure Purple Space have put together.


Purple Tuesday is the UK’s first accessible shopping day, established to recognise the importance and needs of disabled consumers and promote inclusive shopping. Held on the 13th November #PurpleTuesday aims to make shopping more accessible for customers with disabilities by asking the retailers to make simple adjustments to improve customer experience.

Every participant must make at least one long-term commitment aimed at improving the experience for their disabled customers going forward.The exact nature of the commitment is up to each individual business, depending on their specific resources and needs. However, examples include introducing regular ‘quiet hours’ for those with sensory issues, improving store wayfinding, or introducing more inclusive marketing and product photography.

Some big names got behind the campaign include Argos, Barclays, British Retail Consortium, Contacta, Landsec, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, and The Crown Estate.

Why all the Purple?

Well it’s not really that simple to explain but this short piece written by BBC ouchlets series in 2014 touches upon some of the influences that could explain all the purple. Here are some of the most common explanations;

  • Most people believe it is rooted in the protest movement against benefit cuts. In 2010 the disabled-run Broken of Britain blog – one of many protest blogs started at the time – launched, settling on purple for its colours.
  • It is also a favourite colour of Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson who, Franklin remembers, wore a purple jacket during the House of Lords welfare reform debates, which campaigners took to be a symbol of solidarity.
  • The DWP used the phrase purple pound to promote its 2012 campaign to get small and medium-sized businesses to attract disabled customers. The current minister of state for disabled people, Mike Penning, uses the phrase.

So to conclude it seems that the connection between disabled people and the colour purple started back in 2010 following the austerity measures put in place by the government at the time. Whether you agree with the idea of awareness days or not, having disability and inclusion talked about so regularly, receiving extensive coverage in the media and being led by disability-led organisations is completely refreshing and long may it continue.


True inclusion comes from a world that accepts all human difference, where people demand their voices to be heard. #PurpleLightUp will unify a global call to action.” Purple Space