A diverse group of young adults with disabilities stand together in a circle with their heads close, smiling. The view point is looking up at them from inside the circle.

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month: Shattering Stigmas & Obstacles

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, a time to uplift the diverse talents and dreams of people with developmental disabilities. Common developmental disabilities include autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and learning disorders.

The big picture: At The Arc, we believe people with developmental disabilities deserve every opportunity to live the life they choose. One where they have equal access to education, employment, health care, and community living. This month, we celebrate their stories while advocating for a society where barriers to inclusion no longer exist.

History: The roots of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month can be traced back to 1987 when President Reagan first declared March as a month to raise awareness and “according to our fellow citizens with such disabilities, both encouragement and the opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.”

This year’s theme from the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, A World of Opportunities, highlights a future where all people with developmental disabilities can thrive and pursue any path they choose.

What we’re doing: The Arc’s vast grassroots network is creating a world where people with developmental disabilities have the opportunities and support they need to thrive. This month, we’re spotlighting people who are blazing trails as self-advocates and leaders.

Like Ashley, a woman with a developmental disability who champions diversity, equity, and inclusion. And Steve, a self-advocate in Virginia who fought for nine years to gain his independence after being placed in a nursing home is living proof people can thrive in their communities. And Carlos, who overcame barriers to graduate college and is now working in accounting but still faces prejudice. And Mitch, a self-advocate in Colorado and a longtime board member at The Arc, who is a voice for how we should be supporting people with disabilities.

Join The Arc in celebrating Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

🧡 Donate to The Arc to support our advocacy and services, making inclusion possible.
⭐ Volunteer with your local chapter of The Arc to empower people with developmental disabilities.
📣 Share stories uplifting diverse perspectives using #DDawareness2024.

“Segregation and discrimination still cast an ugly shadow over the lives of millions of people with disabilities. This month, we must amplify the voices calling for true inclusion—in our schools, workplaces, and communities. When we listen to self-advocates and remove unfair barriers, incredible contributions shine through.” – Katy Neas, CEO of The Arc