March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month thanks to a 1987 Presidential Proclamation from Ronald Reagan, which was the direct result of the advocacy efforts of The Arc. A lot has changed since then, more people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are living and thriving in their communities rather than institutions, there are more opportunities, more protections and more respect for and inclusion of people with I/DD in their communities. But we must remember that many of those advancements were hard won. Advocacy was the impetus for many of the positive changes in our society, such as the creation of DD Awareness Month. And that will continue only as long as we fight for it.
In 2012, a pivotal Presidential election year, we are fighting to protect Medicaid. Since many people with disabilities rely on publicly funded services to fully participate in their communities, policy makers need to know you are concerned about continuing those services in the face of budget cuts during tough economic times. Take advantage of March to make your mark on the candidates who hope to hold office in 2013 and beyond. Use Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month as a reason to get involved and get active today!
What Can You Do?
- Help us educate candidates about the issues concerning people with I/DD. Learn more about public policy that impacts people with I/DD and then write letters and email and go to campaign events to tell the candidates what you expect them to do to earn your vote.
- Find a local chapter of The Arc and get involved. Over the coming months we will be working through our national chapter network to help people talk to the candidates, register to vote, get to the polls and collectively make their mark!
- Consider attending The Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C. in April. Each year we spend two days covering current public policy in depth to prepare you for a third day on Capitol Hill actually meeting with your Members of Congress and discussing the issues.
- And help us raise awareness about what’s important to the I/DD community and why. Read these suggestions [PDF] for getting the word out.
Look for more information about our We’ve Got the Power Campaign to engage voters and candidates over the crucial months leading up to Election Day. Together, we do have the power and we can continue to create change!