Artwork from artist Eileen Schofield. Each year, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) selects artwork made by someone with a developmental disability to serve as logo imagery for DD Awareness Month.

President Ronald Reagan originally coined March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in 1987, challenging the country to increase public awareness of the potential of Americans with developmental disabilities to live independent and meaningful lives in the community. Read the original proclamation from the Reagan Library here.

More than thirty years have passed since that declaration, and the work toward full inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all areas of community life continues.

That is why, especially during DD Awareness Month, it is important to tell the stories of people with developmental disabilities in our communities. This includes individual stories of success as well as legislative victories achieved by Disability Rights advocates such as the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 2004.

At the same time, it is also necessary to raise awareness that the developmental disability community still faces many barriers to full community inclusion today. Society has a lot of catching up to do. Hateful ideologies are all too common. Many children and adults with developmental disabilities do not have reliable access to support services. Essential, taxpayer-funded organizations that support people with developmental disabilities at home and in the community are struggling under state budgets that do not always prioritize critical programs for people with disabilities.

During Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, we want to remind everyone that people with developmental disabilities are a vital part of our communities. When everyone has the opportunity and resources to live their best lives, that is good for all of us.

If one member [of the body] suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.” -1 Corinthians 12:26

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