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Enough Is Enough. Our Statement on the Club Q Tragedy.

As we grieve yet another mass shooting tragedy in the U.S., thoughts and prayers are not enough. We are heartbroken by the continued harassment, hateful legislation, and exclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals that led to the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Sunday.

Enough is enough. Everyone deserves the same respect, opportunities, and safety. Diverse perspectives, identities, and cultures are something to be valued, not feared and shunned, and are an essential part of the fabric of America. The Arc is no stranger to helping people navigate dehumanizing barriers to simply live openly in their communities, and ALL Americans deserve better. We stand in solidarity with the victims, their families, all LGTBQ+ individuals, and anyone who has experienced gun violence.

As each subsequent shooting makes clear, such as that which occurred two days later at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, our elected leaders at the national, state, and local levels must do even more to solve the ongoing problem of gun violence that plagues our nation and often targets vulnerable, marginalized communities, including people with disabilities.


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National Disability Rights Groups File Amicus in Perez v. Sturgis

This week, The Arc of the United States joined eleven national disability rights organizations in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court. The amici are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to protect students with disabilities and ensure that families of these students are able to pursue the full range of civil rights remedies directly in federal court. The case, Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools, is scheduled to be heard on January 18, 2023.

“Students with disabilities already face inordinate obstacles in getting the education they need to build their future,” said Shira Wakschlag, Senior Director of Legal Advocacy and General Counsel at The Arc. “From inadequate accommodations and low expectations to restraint, seclusion and poor support, parents and children are too often forced to become experts in self-advocacy and the law in order to obtain services and supports they are entitled to. If the lower court decision is allowed to stand, it will cause further harm to students with disabilities who already experience segregation and discrimination in school and will burden parents by forcing them to jump through futile and unnecessary hoops in order to pursue non-IDEA civil rights claims in federal court.”

In Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools, the plaintiff Miguel Perez, a deaf individual, was denied a sign language interpreter for 12 years while attending Sturgis Public Schools, which ultimately impacted his ability to read, write, and graduate. The Perez family filed a due process complaint alleging violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the parties settled the IDEA claims. The ADA claims were dismissed since these claims cannot be heard in administrative proceedings, so the family brought the ADA claims in federal court and sought compensatory damages. The lower court held that Perez gave up his right to sue under the ADA in federal court when he settled the IDEA claims because settlement does not constitute exhaustion of administrative remedies. Yet both claims are vital in his fight against years of discrimination and neglect – the IDEA claim addressed the school’s failure to provide the education and services he needed to learn, and the ADA claim addresses his unequal access to education and compensatory damages for his emotional distress resulting from that discrimination. If the U.S. Supreme Court does not rule in favor of the plaintiff, students with disabilities and their families will have to turn down full IDEA settlements, forgoing their ability to immediately receive a ‘free appropriate public education,’ in order to preserve their distinct non-IDEA claims.


About The Arc: The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), including Down syndrome, autism, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of nearly 600 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with IDD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym. Always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.

Media Contact: Jackie Dilworth, Director of Communications,

A gloved hand holding a vaccine vial, with the words COVID-19 in black on a board behind it.

It’s Flu Season: Are You Ready?

A young child gets a band aid after a vaccine. She is smiling. This year we are facing a triple threat for flu season: the flu, Covid-19, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV). RSV is a viral respiratory infection that usually causes cold-like symptoms. Hospitals are currently seeing an alarming increase in pediatric cases of RSV and some are becoming overwhelmed by the surge.

According to research published by the American Association of Pediatrics and the National Institute of Health, babies and children with Down syndrome are at a higher risk of severe complications and even death from RSV. Much like any other respiratory disease, living in a residential care facility or attending day programs can put people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) at increased risk of exposure. Vaccines for RSV are still in development, but there are important steps you can take right now to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community during the coming wave of infections.

Getting immunized against this year’s flu strain and staying up-to-date on Covid-19 booster shots are critical actions to stay safe. The CDC has stated that children with intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and other neurologic disorders are at greater risk of severe illness and death from both Covid-19 and the flu. Fighting any one of these viruses can be tough, so it is important to take this step to reduce the likelihood of severe disease or concurrent infections. As the days get shorter and temperatures get lower, remember to make time to get vaccinated. Consult with your doctor if you have any questions.

You can find free flu and Covid-19 vaccines near you at

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The Arc of the US Hires Its First Senior Executive Officer of Development

A man standing outside in front of tall bushes with pink flowers. He has short brown hair and is wearing a navy suit and tieThe Arc of the United States has hired its first-ever Senior Executive Officer of Development: Karim Merchant. Karim will lead a team to develop, implement, and manage fundraising strategies that support The Arc’s longstanding commitment to advocate for and serve people with IDD. He will create and implement a comprehensive growth strategy and fundraising plan to cultivate private and public philanthropic support advancing The Arc’s vision for people with IDD to be valued members of their community who can achieve their full potential and a future that is secure. As The Arc approaches its 75th anniversary, Karim will work to build a stronger base of financial support for the national organization, including relaunching The Arc US Foundation, to assure that its advocacy and services will continue for decades to come and give families caring for a person with IDD peace of mind.

Karim comes to The Arc most recently from the Cancer Support Community (CSC), the largest professionally-led nonprofit network of cancer support worldwide, where he led a dynamic fundraising team focused on growing major and planned gifts, corporate partnerships, and foundation grants. Prior to that, at the Aga Khan Foundation USA, Karim led a fundraising team and hundreds of volunteers across the country to raise nearly $14 million annually to improve the quality of life of communities in Asia and Africa.

Karim is a member of the Board of Trustees of Excelsior University and chairs its Institutional Advancement Committee. He recently represented CSC alongside DC grant makers as a volunteer reviewer in the first grant round of DC’s $95 million health equity fund. Karim has enjoyed building experience in a variety of donor-centered fundraising strategies including major and mid-level giving, planned giving, annual fund, board engagement, corporate sponsorships and partnerships, grant writing, events, volunteer leadership, recurring giving, digital campaigns, point-of-sale fundraising, and direct mail. Before he was a fundraiser, Karim practiced corporate finance law, most recently at the Chicago office of Baker and McKenzie. Karim holds a J.D. from The University of Virginia School of Law and a B.A. in Economics and Spanish from Vanderbilt University.