Start the Conversation: Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

« Back to BlogBy Sarah Donley

This month has been Developmental Disabilities Awareness month since 1987, when President Ronald Regan proclaimed it. It was created so that we as Americans would help provide opportunities for people with developmental disabilities reach their fullest potential. In the spirit of that, we wanted to highlight what others are doing to celebrate and make suggestions as to how you can join in the celebration.

The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) and the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) are making it their goal this month to create awareness, tell stories and showcase the lives of those who live with a disability. They are also encouraging others to share their stories, photos, videos or resources to their site or on social media using the hashtag #DDawareness17 throughout the month of March.

The Arc of New Jersey Family Institute hosts an annual Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month outreach event at The Statehouse in Trenton. This year, their theme will be “Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month: It Matters to Me”. They will also be holding a design contest for students in grades 3-12.

What can you do to help raise awareness? A good place to start is by starting a conversation, whether it’s online or just among the people in your life. If you are the type who loves to post on social media, using the NACDD’s hashtag is certainly a good place to start. As teachers, parents or service providers, you can help by fostering disability awareness and acceptance in your children/students.

There are several ways to do this:

  • Don’t ignore the topic, this will only show them it is ok to ignore those with disabilities.
  • Encourage them to ask questions, this is the best way for them to learn and shows that they have an interest.
  • Encourage inclusion in your classrooms; this will be beneficial for both those with disabilities and those without.

More and more these days, people with disabilities are being diagnosed and becoming meaningful members of society as well. It is crucial that we raise awareness so that no one with a disability ever loses out on opportunities because we don’t know how to include them in a world that is just as much theirs as it is ours.


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