In 1987, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the need to “increase public awareness of the needs and potential of Americans with developmental disabilities.” Since that time, each March is recognized as Developmental Disabilities (DD) Awareness Month — a time to raise awareness of the integral role people with developmental disabilities play in our society, and to work to further the cause of inclusion. There are more than 400,000 Texans with developmental disabilities, and it is vital we continue to work together to make our state more accessible and inclusive.
Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation recognizing DD Awareness Month, noting, “people with developmental disabilities have unique abilities and experiences that contribute to our state’s rich diversity and heritage, just like all Texans [and Texas] is a stronger place when people of all abilities are included in community life.” Study after study has shown how when you design for disability — you design for all. This can involve including people with disabilities in the general workforce and providing them with greater economic opportunity, through including students with developmental disabilities in the classroom with their non-disabled peers and increasing their chances to achieve their full academic potential, or simply enabling people with developmental disabilities to live in the greater community.
In recognition of DD Awareness Month, The Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities’ (GCPD) Accessibility and Disability Policy Webinar Series hosted the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD). TCDD covered everything you need to know about DD — from the principles outlined in the DD Act originally passed in 1963, to the work being done today to build community capacity and change systems in Texas. They also discussed their cutting-edge projects (such as their Peer Support Specialist project with ImagineArt), strategic public policy efforts, and innovative public awareness campaigns. An archive of the webinar can be found here.
You can get involved in DD Awareness Month by participating in TCDD’s Side-By-Side Texas social media campaign. All over Texas, people with and without disabilities make contributions to their communities, participate in meaningful employment, and have fun together — side-by-side. It’s easy to get involved, just take a photo of people of all abilities participating together in the community and post it to social media with the hashtag #SideBySideTX. When you share a photo, you’ll help raise awareness within your own network of the importance of including Texans of all abilities! Learn more about the campaign here.