March is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month and is also commonly referred to as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. What can you do this month to be a part of it? How did it originate and grow over the years?
Here’s everything you need to know about Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.
What is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month?
Every March, the NACDD, also known as the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, joins up with the AUCD (Association for University Centers on Disabilities) and the NDRN (National Disability Rights Network) to produce a helpful social media campaign that showcases the multitude of ways that those with (and without) disabilities join together to form incredibly diverse and strong communities.
The awareness campaign works to mostly raise awareness about inclusion in all areas of community living for those with developmental disabilities. It also wants to bring to light the barriers that are still faced in society today when it comes to those with disabilities connecting to their local community.
A History of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
So, where did this originate from? How has it grown over the years?
It began in 1987 when the president at the time, Ronald Reagan, issued a public proclamation that advised the American people to provide those with developmental disabilities the “encouragement and opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to [fully] achieve their potential.”
In the 1970s and 80s, there was a deinstitutionalization movement, which essentially laid the groundwork to promote significant social change. Once those with developmental disabilities started to become more visible and integrate into community living in larger numbers, more programs to assist them were provided. These include supported employment, career planning, coaching, etc.
Of course, this was not done overnight, and many preconceptions about those with developmental disabilities were still widely shared. Those with disabilities becoming extremely productive members of society were a new concept to many, many people.
In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, making workplace discrimination against those with disabilities a thing of the past.
Expectations for those with developmental disabilities began to change. Over time it became more and more obtainable for these people to live more self-directed, independent, and productive lives with increased community support. With community living becoming the main focus, the nation also saw improvements in healthcare and longer life spans for those with disabilities. Meaning that society as a whole began to realize that there were more services needed for completely fulfilling and secure lives to be had.
In 2004, IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) was passed. It guaranteed special education services and early intervention for those with potential disabilities. Having this act passed opened up many more possibilities and opportunities for education and an easier transition into adulthood and community living.
While, of course, complete inclusion and absence of stigmas are not 100% available in society, progress continues to be made every single year. With people sharing their stories, starting community events, advocating for those with developmental disabilities, and having discussions with those around them, we constantly become closer to more acceptance and resources.
Getting Involved in Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month Now
What can you do to become involved in 2020?
If you are living somewhere that offers local events and resources, definitely consider participating in those and bringing friends and family if possible. For areas without anything local going on, consider starting something yourself! It can be as small or large as you would like, depending on your local community and the resources you have at your disposal.
Another fantastic and easy way to spread awareness and share resources with others is through social media.
Consider using the hashtag #DDawareness2020 to share your images, videos, and stories of living as or with someone with a developmental disability. For further engagement past your followers, consider tagging those in the community with influence such as local legislators, radio stations, schools, etc.
You can also share the official artwork for Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month 2020. Those can be found here.
Here are some great resources to share online:
- Scientific articles from the CDC
- Administration on Disabilities Programs
- Videos and Podcasts on Disabilities
- At Home Your Way
For additional information on developmental disabilities, Virginia’s Medicaid waivers, and other resources, check out everything we offer on Moms in Motion!