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Make Your Mark This Election Year

Each year, hundreds of advocates attend the Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, DC to learn more about and discuss the hottest topics in disability public policy. We invite you to join us April 23-25 for your biggest and best opportunity to advance the grassroots movement for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). This year it is even more important to attend the Seminar and have your voice heard as we approach a pivotal presidential election in November.

Millions of Americans deal with the impact of public policy related to IDD every day. From self-advocates to their family members and caregivers to people working for organizations serving individuals with IDD, there is a large bloc of voters who have the potential to change how our government views and interacts with people with disabilities. The Seminar gives you a platform to come together with other advocates, become educated on the issues, and take the initiative to speak with your elected officials about what is important to you.

Monday and Tuesday, April 23-24, are filled with informative sessions from disability policy experts and opportunities to network with others from your state. Then the event culminates on Wednesday, April 25, with attendees organizing on Capitol Hill to personally meet with their elected representative and make a case for their cause supported by information about the issues provided during the Seminar. You can also attend a special webinar hosted by AUCD on March 28 to help prepare you to make the most of the event with an overview and orientation for the Seminar (Visit for webinar registration and details).

You can register now and book your room at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Washington, DC for a special early registration rate at and find out more details about the stimulating program on tap for this year’s event. But act soon – special rates on rooms ends March 20.

This event is hosted by The Arc, United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NADD), and Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE).

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The Arc’s Reaction to the Department of Justice and Commonwealth of Virginia Settlement Regarding Institutions

Washington, DC – The Arc, the nation’s largest and oldest human rights organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) serving more than a million individuals and their families, issued the following statement on the news that the Commonwealth of Virginia has reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding four of its institutions for people with IDD.

“This settlement is a big step forward in bringing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities out of the shadows and into communities across Virginia, where they belong. The Department of Justice’s commitment to monitoring and oversight of the implementation of this agreement will be key to ensuring that the shift to community based services away from institutions will be successful for people with IDD in Virginia.

“The Arc of Virginia and the network of chapters across the state have been instrumental in putting this agreement in place. They will continue their work at the state capitol to advocate for additional resources for people with disabilities so that they can move off of waiting lists and begin receiving the supports they need to live independent lives in the community,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

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What Would You Ask the White House?

This past Tuesday, the nation tuned in to watch President Obama give his third State of the Union address. To continue the conversation, over the next few days the White House is giving the public an opportunity to get their questions answered by senior White House officials. On Friday, it’s our turn!

Tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. ET, Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy, will be available to answer questions on Twitter. This session has been organized to specifically address questions about disability related issues, so let’s make The Arc’s voice heard at the White House!

You can submit your questions on Twitter using the hashtag #WHChat. Kareem will answer the questions in real-time on Twitter, you can follow the Q&A through the @WHLive Twitter account.

Please share with us any questions you get answered by tagging us on Twitter at @thearcus.

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The Arc Responds to Potential Change in Definition of Autism

Washington, DC – The Arc is the nation’s largest and oldest human rights organization for the people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), serving more than a million individuals and their families including people with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (P.D.D.-N.O.S). In response to the news that the American Psychiatric Association is working on revisions to the definition of autism, The Arc issued the following reaction:

“Over the last decade, we have made major strides in ensuring that people diagnosed with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and P.D.D.-N.O.S. have access to the services that advance their health, education, independent living skills, and work skills. These efforts have increased inclusion in educational settings, and, in society, young adults with disabilities are gaining life skills that can lead to jobs and independence. The unintended consequences of a diagnostic definition change could potentially limit access to the services that children and adults with autism and P.D.D.-N.O.S. need, potentially putting at risk their education, and the health and economic stability of their own lives and the lives of their families,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

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The Arc Joins in Filing Supreme Court Amicus Brief on Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Arc released the following statement upon joining other organizations in filing an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in advance of consideration of certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act. This particular effort focuses on the individual mandate to obtain health insurance, with the overarching goal of coverage for all Americans, including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Without a doubt, the Affordable Care Act is the most significant law for people with disabilities in over twenty years. The threats to the individual mandate to obtain health insurance are too dangerous for us to sit on the sidelines. Without an obligation to buy health insurance, our country won’t be able to make significant strides toward covering everyone, including people with pre-existing conditions. The individual mandate will reduce costs in the entire health care system. The Arc won’t waiver in our commitment to this law and the real changes and cost savings to our system that will undoubtedly benefit people with disabilities, their families, the workers that support them, and our entire nation,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

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The Arc Announces New Office in Nevada to Serve People with Disabilities and Their Families

Washington, DC – This month, The Arc of the United States announced the launch of the “Growing a Grassroots Advocacy Movement” project in Nevada. This program, funded by the Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and The Arc of the United States, will work to develop long-term capacity for advocates to have input and impact on issues of importance to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families.

The launch of this project will mark the first time The Arc will have a statewide presence in Nevada since the mid-nineties. Specifically this project will train individuals with developmental disabilities and members of their families on how to impact disability policy at the local, regional and state levels, culminating in a grassroots campaign. The training, called Partners Plus, will be conducted across the state, targeting graduates of previous Nevada Partners in Policymaking classes.

“The Arc is very excited about this opportunity to serve Nevada on a statewide level for the first time in over a decade. This is a wonderful chance to empower individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as their family members, to be advocates and influence disability policy right in their own backyard,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

In addition to the Partners Plus program, The Arc in Nevada will expand efforts to support individuals with IDD and their families through new chapter recruitment, grassroots advocacy development, and collaborative efforts with communities across Nevada.

This project will be staffed by a new member of The Arc’s team, Nicole Schomberg. Nicole is a parent of a child with developmental disabilities, and has extensive experience working with families and self-advocates in Nevada.

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Martha and Me

By Nancy Webster, Vice President of the Board of Directors of The Arc of the United States.

Being a sibling of a person with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD) is interesting, funny, frustrating, proud, challenging, loving and respectful. A long-lasting relationship that adapts and evolves, it’s a partnership that not everyone understands. But other siblings do.

In any family, brothers and sisters often think of themselves and each other very differently from the ways parents do. Even when we were young, I could usually convince my parents to let Martha try something they were worried that she could not do by telling them that I would do it with her. It was my belief in her that gave her the courage to learn how to swim, climb up the slide and care for her prosthesis. Today, when Martha wants to try something, we team up to figure out how to tell and show others, “here’s how it can work.” We know we’re stronger together, and so together we have learned advocacy. Martha calls us “the sister team.”

“Martha inspires me in many ways and we are a wonderful and strong team.”

I often think how wonderful it would have been for us to grow up knowing other siblings. How amazing it would have been to hear another sibling’s stories – to learn how to manage something differently, to share anger, to boast of an achievement that to my friends might seem trivial, but another sibling knows the triumph.

Frequently I talk with adult siblings whose parents are aging and are now facing the challenge of learning all of the intricacies of supporting his or her sibling. In the interest of “protecting” them, their parents have not shared information. Where can they turn for guidance and support? The Arc’s National Sibling Council is a welcoming network that identifies with siblings and helps them connect with other siblings to share information and experience. It is exciting to think that I can call someone and ask “how did you know how to….?” “What can we do about…?”

This is an opportunity to connect and improve the lives of future siblings and make their paths less daunting. I’m thrilled to share Martha’s and my story, and I hope you join me on The Arc’s National Sibling Council.