March is celebrated nationally as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. At the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities, we want to shine a light on people of all abilities. People with developmental disabilities (DD) are our friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members and our community is stronger when we include everyone.
Usually this month-long celebration is kicked off by a visit to the state-house by some of our advocates to share their stories and meet with local legislators on progress made and goals for the future. This year, the event was held virtually due to the pandemic, but we hope to be back in Columbus in-person next year.
This month, we not only want to celebrate the unique contributions of people with DD in our communities, but we also want to raise awareness of the remaining barriers to inclusion. More importantly, what we can do to remove those barriers. People with DD still face barriers and discrimination in many areas such as healthcare, educational opportunities, employment and transportation. The disabilities field, with advocates leading the way, have come a long way to make the world a more inclusive place, but there is always more work to do.
In 2021, people with developmental disabilities have the option to live, work and play just like everyone else. People with DD live in their own homes, go to jobs that they choose, have meals out with friends and even go to college. Our job at the Shelby County Board of DD is to assist them in navigating these life choices and coordinating the needed supports to help them meet their goals.
Although our celebrations and events are different this year than in years past, as a community, we can make small efforts to educate ourselves and think about ways we can be more inclusive of people of all abilities. A few actions you can take to do this are: 1) Watch a documentary on the lives of people with disabilities. 2) Contact the Shelby County Board of DD about volunteer activities or what you can do to be involved. 3) Talk to a community member with disabilities about their experiences and what is going on in their life. I bet you will find that their experiences are very similar to yours. 4) Read about disability advocacy online. The Shelby County Board of DD website has resources, or a simple Google search on Ohio developmental disability resources can take you to a variety of online documents. 5) Follow DD organizations or advocacy groups on social media as well.
As always, if you have any questions or want to learn more about the Shelby County Board of DD, follow us on social media at www.facebook.com/Shelbydd.org or check out our website at www.facebook.com/shelbydd.org. You can also reach us by phone at 937-497-8155.
The writer is the superintendent of the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities.