By Donna Meltzer, NACDD CEO
As we mark the halfway point of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) is excited to continue to celebrate the great strides made by so many people with I/DD. Everyone wants and deserves to enjoy life, feel productive and secure. But this month, we take extra steps to raise awareness about the supports and rights of people with disabilities and to celebrate their contributions to our society.
On February 26, 1987 President Ronald Reagan officially declared Proclamation 5613 making March National Disabilities Awareness Month. The proclamation called for people to provide understanding, encouragement, and opportunities to help persons with disabilities to lead productive and fulfilling lives. Hundreds of organizations across the U.S have joined NACDD to highlight the contributions people with I/DD have made in communities around the country and to share their continued support of people with I/DD to move toward change. From all the social media posts we have seen since we started the 2021 DD Awareness campaign, we can see that despite the pandemic, many people with I/DD have continued to work, participated in online school, or join friends and colleague online to stay connected.
This month so far, we have focused on highlighting people within the I/DD community, shared resources and data on COVID-19 and the vaccine, and celebrated employment and education opportunities. We have spotlighted DD Councils across the U.S and its territories and shared state governors’ proclamations celebrating Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.
This has been such a challenging year, and we still have a lot of work ahead of us. But during DD Awareness Month, I ask everyone to also take time to recognize what we have accomplished together. NACDD applauds the dedication and advocacy that we see every day across the I/DD community. Despite the pandemic, we continue to advocate for better healthcare, more jobs, and career opportunities, and equal access to education at all levels, and more. Though March will end soon, our advocacy work will continue and people with I/DD will be at the forefront on re-imaging what things will look like after the pandemic ends. We will all continue celebrating our individual and collective achievements and working toward new and improved opportunities in the future to help us all live our best life possible.