Developmental Disabilities (DD) Awareness Month is a time to raise awareness of the integral role people with developmental disabilities play in our society and to rededicate ourselves to the cause of inclusion. Nearly 500,000 Texans are diagnosed with a developmental disability, and it is vital we continue to work together to make our state more accessible and inclusive for everyone.
Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation recognizing DD Awareness Month, noting, “people with developmental disabilities have unique abilities and experiences that contribute to our state’s rich diversity and heritage, just like all Texans [and Texas] is a stronger place when people of all abilities are included in community life.” Study after study has shown how when you design for disability, you design for all. This takes many forms, like including people with disabilities in the general workforce and providing them with greater economic opportunity, including students with developmental disabilities in the classroom with their non-disabled peers and empowering them to achieve their full academic potential, or simply providing people with developmental disabilities the supports they need to live in the greater community.
One easy suggestion for fostering inclusive communities is to pay attention to the words we use when talking with and about other people. Spread the Word (previously Spread the Word to End the Word) is celebrated on March 4th, and asks people to pledge to not use the r-word. Now in its eleventh year, Spread the Word asks everyone to pledge to spread the word about inclusion — by creating socially inclusive places to learn, work, and live we can remind everyone that people with developmental disabilities are valued members of society.
Language is powerful, so it is important to be respectful and thoughtful whether you’re talking to your neighbor or posting on social media. People First Language puts the person before the disability — instead of saying “a disabled person” you say “a person with a disability.” When in doubt, ask the person how they prefer to be identified! Be sure to take the Pledge for Inclusion and help spread the word about Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month