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Civic Engagement

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Civic Engagement Initiative

NACDD believes that people with disabilities have a valuable role to play as active citizens of the communities in which they live.  Their involvement builds personal connections in the community, helps to break down misconceptions about people living with developmental disabilities and enables them to contribute back to their community as civic volunteers and partners.  Using person-centered, community-centered and purposeful learning approaches that are not currently part of the field of developmental disabilities will lead to systemic change in the civic engagement process at the local level.

In 2013, NACDD engaged DD Councils in discussions to advance civic engagement projects.  Thus far, at least 19 DD Councils have participated in building their knowledge on the subject and initiated local investments. Early results are promising for many states and an evaluation process will be conducted at the end of the first year.

State Spotlight: Georgia

GCDD Gardeningf

The Georgia DD Council’s work in creating inclusive communities or Real Communities as they call their program has served as an inspiration for our collective work in civic and community engagement though every DD Council’s project should be unique and appropriate to the local area.

In Georgia, they began with a community garden project that brought together members of an immigrant farming community with area people with I/DD over some seeds and a plot of land. The result was more than just a productive garden. More importantly the activity increased understanding by the immigrant community of the capacity of people with I/DD to be active members of their society, improved self-esteem in those with I/DD as they saw the fruits of their labors, a joint-venture at a local farmer’s market that showed the community how these varied people worked together and the distribution by the I/DD community of fresh produce to elderly local residents who rely on food assistance.

To learn more about the Georgia DD Council Real Communities program, click here.

Partnerships for Civic Engagement

Civic Solve Logo

NACDD is partnering with CivicSolve to work with DD Councils to strategize and create their own civic engagement projects over the next few years.

Close Up Foundation Logo

The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) is pleased to announce a partnership with Close Up Washington DC. The two organizations have agreed, in principle, to form a partnership focused on continuing NACDD’s effort to build civic capacity among its network of Councils while furthering Close Up’s outreach to include students with disabilities in their trainings.

One Vote Now Initiative

The concept of “One Person, One Vote” is central to the ideal of democracy in the United States. However, people with disabilities are historically underrepresented among voters. One Vote Now was created to encourage, facilitate, and empower people with disabilities and those who support them, to vote!

One Vote Now is a partner project of the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) – the national voice of the 56 State and Territorial Councils on Developmental Disabilities; the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) – a leading national civil rights law and policy center directed by individuals with disabilities and parents who have children with disabilities; the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) – one of the nation’s largest disability rights organizations; RespectAbility – an organization founded to correct and prevent the current disparity of justice for people with disabilities; and the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) – which works to improve the lives of people with disabilities by guarding against abuse; advocating for basic rights; and ensuring accountability in health care, education, employment, housing, transportation, and within the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

One Vote Now was founded to help all people with disabilities understand their rights as voters. One Vote Now seeks to improve the voting representation of people with disabilities by encouraging voter registration and providing information about voting opportunities and resources on polling place accessibility. One Vote Now also seeks to help provide information and education so that more people with disabilities will run for public office.

For more information, please visit