Columnists

Letter: Celebrating Disability Awareness

Dear Editor,

On February 26, 1987, President Ronald Reagan officially declared March National Disabilities Awareness Month. The proclamation called for people to provide understanding, encouragement and opportunities to help persons with disabilities lead productive and fulfilling lives.

The Arc of Indiana works each and every day to raise awareness about the strengths and needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Equally important, we work to be part of the solution in ensuring ALL people have the opportunity to live, learn, work and fully participate in their community.

We want to be at the table and “in the room where it happens” to not only represent people with IDD, but also to ensure people with IDD themselves have a voice at the table through our strong affiliation with Self-Advocates of Indiana.

Through our work at the Statehouse and representation on the Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services (DDRS) Advisory Council, Vocational Rehabilitation Commission, Community and Home Options to Institutional Care (CHOICE) Board, Special Education Advisory Committee and other committees, task forces and commissions, we work to raise awareness and bring the voice of families and people with IDD to state level planning and decision-making that directly impacts Hoosiers across the lifespan.

We are also committed to directly serving people with disabilities to lead fuller, more inclusive lives. Through The Arc of Indiana Master Trust, people of all disabilities have increased financial security by having access to resources that can be saved and easily used for qualified disability and personal expenses. The creation of The Arc of Indiana Foundation’s Erskine Green Training Institute provides opportunities for postsecondary vocational training for people with disabilities that empower and lead to meaningful employment. Our team of family advocates with The Arc Advocacy Network provide information, guidance and advocacy to ensure children and adults with disabilities receive the programs and services they are entitled to and are aware of local community resources that can help them lead their best lives.

Since our founding in 1956, people with IDD have moved from a life cut off from the world around them in institutions, to leading fuller, more meaningful lives with their family, classmates, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. We are proud to have played an important role in this over our 65 plus years. Our work is not done. In March and every other month of the year we will continue our work to empower people with disabilities and inspire positive change.

Kim Dodson, CEO The Arc of Indiana