DD Awareness Month 2024
DD Awareness Month 2024

Table of Contents

For Developmental Disabilities (DD) Awareness Month 2024, we asked all Texans to learn more about their friends, neighbors, and coworkers with DD, and to unite with us in creating more inclusive communities across our state. Each year, TCDD and our partners at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service (AgriLife) join disability advocates across the country in a monthlong campaign to raise awareness about the inclusion of people with DD in all aspects of community life. Although the month is over, we encourage you to continue raising awareness all year-round.

TCDD strives to make sure that all Texans with DD have what they need to be fully included in their communities. We’re grateful for the dedication of self-advocates, family members, disability organizations, and communities across our state who share a common mission to support people with DD to make their own decisions and lead their own lives in whatever way they choose. 

DD Awareness Resources

Throughout March, we highlighted some of the ways people with and without DD come together to create strong and diverse communities. We also brought attention to the barriers many people with DD continue to face that make it difficult to be meaningfully connected and involved in the places where they live, work, and go to school.

This section highlights some of the resources we shared over the past month. Please continue using these and share them with others. This non-comprehensive list includes information from TCDD and from other organizations.

Websites and Online Resources

Disability Book Week, held every year from April 23-29, invites people to become more inclusive with what they read by reading books that feature main characters with disabilities. You can find a recommended book list, literacy resources, and ways to get involved on the Disability Book Week website.

Mary Mecham created Disability Book Week in 2021 as part of her capstone project for Texas Partners in Policymaking. Partners graduates develop capstone projects to cultivate inclusion in their communities across the state. For her project, Mecham expanded understanding and inclusion through the power of reading.

Emergency preparedness refers to the things you do to make sure you’re safe before, during, and after an emergency or natural disaster. Emergency situations, including winter storms and other natural disasters, can happen at any time. During an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. To stay safe and healthy, preparing ahead of time is crucial.

TCDD compiled emergency preparedness resources to help people with disabilities and their families prepare for emergency situations. The resource webpage also includes strategies to advocate for Texans with disabilities to have access to emergency information and preparation that is responsive to their needs.

Additionally, Disability Rights Texas has a Disaster Resilience webpage full of resources, including handouts, presentations, videos, and links to additional information. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation recognizing DD Awareness Month 2024. The proclamation says, in part, “Like all Texans, people with developmental disabilities have unique skills and perspectives, but they also face unique challenges. It is important to raise awareness about the disability experience in Texas and to understand how each person can lead the best life possible.” Download the governor’s proclamation (PDF).

Your advocacy efforts are an essential factor in helping shape public policy. Meeting with legislators in person is the most effective way to get your message across. Letters, phone calls, and emails can also be useful when contacting your legislators — especially if they are made at the right time with a sincere message.

To support your efforts, TCDD developed a Legislative Advocacy Resources webpage that includes information and resources on meeting with legislators and giving public testimony. The webpage also features the animated video, “Voices for Change: Legislative Advocacy in Action.” The video, produced by Paso del Norte Children’s Development Center through a TCDD-funded DD policy fellowship, explains the legislative advocacy process through the story of a father and daughter seeking new legislation to fund accessible and inclusive parks and playgrounds. 

Texas Parent to Parent created an online transition center with resources, videos, and other information to help families and youth with DD with the transition into adulthood. The Pathways to Adulthood Transition Center was developed as part of a TCDD-funded project that also provided training to 800 Texas families to develop personal networks, understand their rights and options with Medicaid waiver services and other support, and help their children plan for the future. 

Everyone deserves dignity and respect. Yet historically, our words have contributed to negative attitudes and misrepresentations about the value of people with disabilities in our society. To end discrimination — at work, at school, and in our communities — it’s important to stop using language that denies a person’s value, identity, individuality, and capability.

With this in mind, TCDD developed A Quick Guide to Disability Language (PDF). When describing disabilities, many people use either People-First Language or Identity-First Language. This guide offers information and tips on using language that promotes dignity and respect for everyone. 

Developed through a TCDD-funded project by the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School and Strategic Education Solutions, Self-Advocate Central includes resources and information for people with DD on topics such as participatory action research, peer support, mental health, and sexual assault prevention. Self-Advocate Central also created a series of videos that feature peer-support specialists talking about their experiences with living on their own, accessing reliable transportation, and finding meaningful employment in their communities.  

Videos and Webinar Recordings

Imagine Art and Disability Rights Texas (DRTx) created a series of videos that explain important things to know about Medicaid benefits. Video topics include person-centered planning, Medicaid waiver programs, the Office of the Ombudsman, the DRTx intake process, and Medicaid denials and appeals. The videos were created as part of a TCDD-funded project called Channels 4 Self-Advocacy to increase awareness of present-day disability advocacy topics for Texans with DD. 

TCDD’s regional coordinators regularly develop webinars on important disability topics, including multi-part programs on family future planning and inclusive employment. On our website, you can find webinar recordings from these multi-part programs. You can also download webinar handouts and presentation slides. 

In collaboration with partners in the disability community, TCDD developed this video, titled “People With Disabilities Vote: Here’s What Poll Workers Should Know,” to share essential information on topics such as voting accommodations and how poll workers can support voters with disabilities. To spread awareness, we invite you to share this video and other TCDD voting resources with your community and personal network. Together, we can ensure all people with disabilities have their voices heard in our local, state, and federal elections. You can find more voting information on our website. 

The New York Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC), in partnership with the New York State Digital and Media Services Center, produced a documentary in 2023, titled “The Path Forward: Remembering Willowbrook,” that highlights the importance of lessons learned, positive change that resulted, and the legacy of the Willowbrook State School in Staten Island. 

The documentary’s release recognizes the 50th anniversary of an investigative exposé produced by Geraldo Rivera about the abuse of residents at Willowbrook, which at that time was the largest institution in the world for people with disabilities. Rivera’s investigation shocked the nation and led to widespread changes in the treatment of people with disabilities living in institutions. The exposé also created a lifelong bond between Rivera and Bernard Carabello, a former Willowbrook resident who later founded the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State.

“The Path Forward: Remembering Willowbrook” is a celebration of inclusion in all aspects of community life. To view the documentary and find more information, visit the New York DDPC website.

TCDD Public Policy Director Scott Daigle created a series of short videos to help you learn how to use the Texas Legislature Online website to track legislation during the session. The videos cover a variety of topics, including how to search and track bills online, provide legislative testimony, and submit comments to Texas House committees. 

Stay Involved

DD Awareness Month provides a special opportunity to highlight stories about people with DD, their families, disability organizations, and service providers. But raising DD awareness is a year-round activity. Whether you’re an organization or an individual, your participation is key.

You can connect online with national, statewide, and local disability organizations to learn more about what they do. Here are a few to get started:

Along with DD Awareness Month, there are many other awareness occasions throughout the year. In April, we recognize Autism Acceptance Month. Learn more at the Autism Society of Texas, which hosts the annual Texas Autism Walk. Here are some other upcoming disability-related awareness months:

  • Mental Health Awareness Month (May)
  • Older Americans Month and Older Texans Month (May)
  • National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October)
  • National Family Caregivers Month (November)

Moving forward, you can stay connected with us throughout the month by subscribing to our newsletter and following us on Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and LinkedIn. You can also connect with a TCDD regional coordinator in your part of Texas.

Thank you for joining us for DD Awareness Month 2024!



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