March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month thanks to a 1987 Presidential Proclamation which was the direct result of the advocacy efforts of The Arc. A lot has changed since then: more people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are living and thriving in their communities rather than institutions, there are more opportunities in education and employment, more protections in health care, the legal system and other areas of human rights, there are more positive and accurate portrayals of people with I/DD in the arts, the list goes on. But we must remember that many of those advancements were hard won. Self-advocacy and advocacy on behalf of those with I/DD was the impetus for many of the positive changes in our society, such as the proclamation that recognized DD Awareness Month.
It’s up to you to continue to advocate for respect, access and inclusion of people with I/DD. Take advantage of March to spread some awareness in your world. Learn more about the issues concerning people with I/DD and The Arc’s position on those issues. Learn more about public policy that impacts people with I/DD and contact your legislator. Since many people with disabilities rely on publicly funded services to fully participate in their communities, policy makers need to know you are concerned about continuing those services in the face of budget cuts during tough economic times. And, get involved. Find a local chapter of The Arc and volunteer or donate. Together we can continue to make a difference.
There’s a lot you as an individual can you do to raise awareness about intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in your community. And, since March is I/DD Awareness Month, that’s the perfect time to do your thing – we encourage you to pick at least one idea from the list below and make that your personal effort to raise I/DD awareness during March.
- Post this as your status on Facebook at least once during March: March is Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) Awareness Month. Help me celebrate the contributions of all people with I/DD by copying and posting this as your status during March. Get more information about I/DD at www.thearc.org.
- Tweet this out on Twitter at least once during March: March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Be aware. Visit www.thearc.org.
- Write a post for your blog about someone you know with an intellectual or developmental disability and how they have inspired you.
- Since many people with disabilities rely on publicly funded services to fully participate in their communities, policy makers need to know you are concerned about continuing those services in the face of budget cuts during tough economic times. Contact your legislator today and let them know you expect them to enact public policy to assist people with I/DD.
- Contact your local chapter of The Arc to volunteer or donate. Local chapters are on the front lines of advocacy efforts and provide the services and supports essential to people with I/DD and their families. Often they are lifelines for struggling families and they need your help to accomplish their goals.
- Watch movies and TV shows that positively portray actors with disabilities and discuss them with your friends and family. Two actresses with Down syndrome are featured on the hit TV show Glee and were recently awarded The Arc’s Inclusion and Image Award for their positive portrayals.
- Talk to your employer about their practices for recruiting and hiring people with I/DD. Many employers don’t realize just how much an employee with I/DD can contribute to the workplace. Tell them.
- Support businesses that employ people with I/DD and make sure they know you noticed.
- Comment on The Arc’s Facebook page and Twitter profile about what you are doing to raise awareness of I/DD.