17th Annual Disability Day at the Capitol This year's theme celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act! Be a part of the state's largest, disability advocacy event by gathering to promote access, opportunity and meaningful community living for all Georgians in a new location! This year's event will be on Liberty Plaza, the Capitol's new "front door." It's an outdoor area adjacent to the state Capitol that provides a safe space for crowds to gather for rallies and events including the 17th Annual Disability Day at the Capitol.
2015 Advocacy Days at the Capitol! Location: Central Presbyterian Church, 201 Washington Street SW, Atlanta, 30303
Leading up to the 17th annual Disability Day at the Capitol, GCDD is hosting Advocacy Days at the Capitol and workshops to advocate for waivers and more support for the disability community! Check out the schedule below and sign up for the workshops and Disability Day!
We Need Waivers Day Wed., Jan. 21, 9 AM-12 PM Did you know over 7,000 Georgians are on the waiting list for a NOW or COMP waiver? Join us as we advocate to get more waivers!
ICWP Raise the Rate Day Thurs., Jan. 29, 9 AM-12 PM Georgia families are in crisis because they cannot find caregivers who will work for as little as $8 an hour. Join us as we advocate to raise this impossibly low rate!
Kids NeedReal Homes, Not Nursing Homes Day Wed., Feb. 4, 9 AM-12 PM Right now, 39 school-aged children in Georgia live in nursing homes or facilities for people with disabilities. Join us as we advocate for 39 COMP waivers to bring these children home!
Employment First Day Wed., Feb. 11, 9 AM-12 PM Working age Georgians with disabilities want real jobs in their communities. Join us as we advocate for real jobs with Employment First!
Youth Day Thurs., Feb. 19, 9 AM-12 PM Calling all youth with disabilities! Come advocate for yourself and your friends and enjoy the excitement of the legislature in action! We will start the day with a fun, interactive advocacy training to teach you all you need to know about speaking to your legislators. Then, we’ll go over to the Capitol together to educate our legislators about what they can do to support individuals with disabilities and their families.
17th Annual Disability Day at the Capitol Thurs., March 5, 9 AM-2 PM Be a part of Georgia’s largest, disability advocacy event by gathering to promote access, opportunity and meaningful community living for all Georgians. Disability Day will be held at Liberty Plaza, across from the Capitol. All are welcome but due to limited space, you must register in advance.
Disability Day Sponsorship! Your sponsorship will support one of the largest statewide events that provide an opportunity for advocates to unite in support of legislation that will promote the independence, inclusion, productivity and self-determination of people with disabilities. Each year, thousands gather at the Capitol to meet with lawmakers, celebrate growth in community and reignite the bonds of friendship. The success of the event depends on sponsors like you. Please let us know of your commitment no later than February 11, so that you may receive full recognition of your support as a Disability Day 2015 sponsor.
SPECIAL ALERT: The Wildcard Advocacy Day scheduled for March 1 HAS BEEN CHANGED TO THURSDAY, MARCH 10. All other details remain the same. If you are already registered for the March 1 date, you will be contacted or you can re-register yourself for March 10.
No matter how robust our legislative agenda, we cannot be successful in our efforts without YOU – the voices of the people with disabilities, their families, and other allies. We will be holding a series of advocacy days along with our annual Disability Day at the Capitol. Each advocacy day will have training, visits with legislators and networking with others in our community.
Registration: Please review the information below and fill out the registration form at the bottom of the page to register for all days EXCEPT for Feb. 9 (Intellectual Disability and the Death Penalty), Feb. 18 (Disability Day at the Capitol) and Feb. 24 (ABLE Act). Registration for those days is by separate contacts listed below.
2016 Advocacy Days
Time: All advocacy days will run from 8:30 AM till approximately 12:30 PM (unless otherwise noted below). Location:Central Presbyterian Church across from the Georgia State Capitol at 201 Washington Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30303(except for the ICWP day as noted below). Each attendee MUST be registered individually to provide an accurate count. If you are a group leader or are bringing a support person, you will be able to register additional people after you submit YOUR registration.
We Need More DD (NOW/COMP) Waivers Day Wednesday, January 20 Register on form below:For additional info, contact Stacey Ramirez at (sponsored by GCDD and UNLOCK, formerly “Unlock the Waiting Lists”) Download the NOW/COMP Waiver Fact Sheet here.
Independent Care Waiver Program (ICWP) Raise the Rate Day Wednesday, January 27 Location: Georgia State Capitol in Room 125 at 8:30 AM, NOT the church as we do on the other days. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes early (by 8 AM) to allow plenty of time to go through the screening that is required at the Capitol. Register on form below:For additional info, contact Stacey Ramirez at (sponsored by GCDD and UNLOCK) Download the ICWP Fact Sheet and rate card.
Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) Day Tuesday, February 2 Register on form below:For additional info, contact Stacey Ramirez at (sponsored by GCDD, UNLOCK and the Georgia Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Consortium) Download the IPSE Fact Sheet here.
Intellectual Disability and the Death Penalty Tuesday, February 9, 9 AM - 12:30 PM You cannot use the registration form below for this day.For more information and to RSVP, please register, here. For additional info, contact Kathryn Hamoudah at or 404-688-1202. (sponsored by GCDD, PAPE Coalition and GFADP)
Employment First Day Thursday, February 11 Register on form below:For additional info, contact Stacey Ramirez at (sponsored by GCDD, UNLOCK and the Employment First Coalition) Download the Employment First Fact Sheet here.
ABLE (Achieving a Better Life) Act Coalition Day Wednesday, February 24 You cannot use the registration form below for this day.For more information and to RSVP, please register here. (sponsored by GCDD, AADD and the Georgia ABLE Coalition) Download the ABLE Act Fact Sheet here.
Wildcard Day! End-of-Session Advocacy Please Note this date has been changed. The new date is: Thursday, March 10 Register on form below:For additional info, contact Stacey Ramirez at (sponsored by GCDD and UNLOCK)
WE NEED VOLUNTEERS! To make each advocacy day a success, we are in need of many volunteers. The number of volunteers we will need to help on a given day will depend upon how many people register. If you are interested in helping if needed on the days for which you are registered to attend, please indicate this on the registration form and we will contact you with specifics.
Register now to participate in GCDD’s 18th Annual Disability Day at the Capitol. More than one million Georgians have some type of disability and approximately 652,000 are voting-age. Exercise your right to vote this election year. Your vote, and your voice, are critical to the political decision-making process. Come to LIBERTY PLAZA and join advocates, meet with state legislators, make your voice heard and your VOTE COUNT.Don't miss out on what is set to be an exciting year for disability rights!
We look forward to seeing you at Liberty Plaza at the Georgia State Capitol on February 18, 2016!
Schedule Overview 9 AM - 11 AM: T-Shirt distribution, activities and exhibits at the Georgia Freight Depot before the rally - first come, first served. 11 AM - 12:30 PM: Rally program in Liberty Plaza, Capitol Avenue & MLK, Jr. Dr. 12:30 PM - 2 PM: Box lunch and exhibits at the Georgia Freight Depot - first come, first served.
Disability Day Sponsorship!
Your sponsorship will support one of the largest statewide events that provide an opportunity for advocates to unite in support of legislation that will promote the independence, inclusion, productivity and self-determination of people with disabilities. Each year, thousands gather at the Capitol to meet with lawmakers, celebrate growth in community and reignite the bonds of friendship. The success of the event depends on sponsors like you. Please let us know of your commitment no later than February 5, so that you may receive full recognition of your support. (Information received after this date does not guarantee your organization’s placement on any printed materials.) For more information, contact Kim Person at GCDD, 404.657.2130 or email
During the 2016 Legislative Session, GCDD is hosting Advocacy Days at the Capitol and workshops to advocate for waivers and more support for the disability community! Check out the schedule below. Registration here for Advocacy Days: http://gcdd.org/advocacy/
We Need More DD (NOW/COMP) Waivers Day Wednesday, Jan. 20 (sponsored by Unlock, formerly “Unlock the Waiting Lists”)
Independent Care Waiver Program (ICPW) Raise the Rate Day Wednesday, Jan. 27 (sponsored by Unlock, formerly “Unlock the Waiting Lists”)
Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) Day Tuesday, Feb. 2 (sponsored by GCDD)
Intellectual Disability and the Death Penalty Tuesday, February 9 (sponsored by the PAPE Coalition and GFADP)
Employment First Day Thursday, February 11 (sponsored by GCDD)
ABLE (Achieving a Better Life) Act Coalition Day Wednesday, February 24 (sponsored by AADD and Georgia ABLE Coalition)
Wildcard Day! End-of-Session Advocacy Tusday, March 1 (sponsored by GCDD)
IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT! The Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) Advocacy Day has been rescheduled for February 1. It will NOT take place this Wednesday, January 18.
This change is due to the Georgia General Assembly not being in session this upcoming week.
We hope to see you on February 1 where we will discuss with legislators both the need for more DD waivers and the need for increased funding of Inclusive Post-Secondary Education here in Georgia.
REGISTER NOW for the 2017 Georgia Councilon Developmental Disabilities' Advocacy Days!
Learn how to speak to your legislators. Then visit the Capitol to educate them about the issues you care about. Each day has a specific topic; we welcome you to register for as many days as you would like!
Let's show Georgia legislators that we have a voice - a voice that must be heard! We will not be put to the side and ignored. We Georgians care about our community and know that these topics are of vital importance to the health of our great state. As a community we have achieved much in the past fifty years. Now as a community we need to keep up the good fight and make Georgia a place where all of us, regardless of our ability, can live, learn, work, play and worship in our community.
So come out, bring a friend or two, and let your voice be heard! Register today to reserve your spot. Space is limited, so don't delay! Please be sure to register your support staff if needed so we will have an accurate head count.
Dates & Topics of 2017 Advocacy Days Time: All advocacy days will run from 8:30 AM till approximately 12:30 PM Location: Central Presbyterian Church across from the Georgia State Capitol at 201 Washington Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30303
January 18: Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) Day (PLEASE NOTE: This event has been rescheduled for February 1. It will NOT take place this Wednesday, January 18.) February 1: DD Waivers Day 1 & Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) Day February 7: DD Waivers Day 2 February 23: Employment Day February 28: Enable Work and Families Day (Family Care Act, PeachWork, and Phillip Payne Personal Assistance Program) March 9: Home & Community Day (Elder & Disabled Abuse Registry, Offensive Language, Transportation, Residential Housing Study Committee)
Daily Schedule Overview 8:30 - 9:00 Arrival & Registration 9:00 - 9:20 Welcome & Understand the Issue 9:20 - 9:40 Demonstration of a visit with a legislator 9:40 - 10:10 Break into teams to practice the legislative visit 10:10 - 12:30 Go to the Capitol in teams to call legislators to the ropes 12:30 approx. Drop off legislative visit form to Dawn, Hanna or Stacey
We will have CART available at all Advocacy Days. We are dedicated to all Advocacy Days being accessible for all, so please let us know if you have any specific needs or accommodations. Please note, sign language interpreters require at least 7 business days of notice to arrange.
Questions? Problems Registering? Contact Hanna at 404.657.2124 or
WE NEED VOLUNTEERS! To make each advocacy day a success, we are in need of many volunteers. The number of volunteers we will need to help on a given day will depend upon how many people register. If you are interested in helping if needed on the days for which you are registered to attend, please indicate this on the registration form and we will contact you with specifics. Please see below additional information about parking and accessibility. Thank you for your interest in Advocacy Days!
Over 1,000 people from across the country are meeting at the Grand Hyatt Hotel to hear about the policy issues important to people with developmental disabilities and their families. For two days we are hearing about the issues in preparation for visits to Capitol Hill on Wednesday. There are two important themes to this gathering. The first is about how to support a bipartisan atmosphere. This may seem like an altruistic idea given the current political climate where on many issues Democrats and Republicans cannot agree. However there are many people who think that we can get disability related legislation passed because it is a bipartisan issue. We have argued for years that disability does not care if you are Republican or Democrat.
GCDD Executive Committee Member Josette Arkhas, GCDD Chair Mitzi Profitt, and Eric Jacobson advocate at the nation's capital for disability rights.Yet, there are several significant pieces of legislation that have not passed and many argue it is simply because of the current climate. The United States still remains one of the only developed countries to not ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Senator Tom Harkin, one of the authors of the ADA has pleaded for this to take place during the week of July 21 as his outgoing legacy before he retires. The Senate is just six votes shy of having enough votes to pass the legislation and both Senators Chambliss and Isakson have indicated they will vote against this Bill. Our job, my fellow Georgians is to convince them that they should vote in favor. Please call their offices and encourage them to vote for the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. the ABLE Act, and Employment First.
Many of you will remember that Ambassador Gallegos spoke at Disability day at the Capitol a few years ago. He was one of the primary authors of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. The Senate is six votes shy of passing this Treaty. Neither Senator Isakson or Chambliss have signed on as a supporter. They tell us they have not heard from people in Georgia who support the Treaty. We need you to call their offices today and ask them to vote in favor of giving people with disabilities the same rights as those in the US.
The second theme was about thanking our champions who are retiring and trying to identify our next champions. Senators Harkin and Rockefeller have both fought hard for the rights of people with disabilities and both will leave the Senate in January. We have several representatives who are running for the Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of Senator Chambliss. We thank Senator Chambliss for his many years of service to our State. Now is the time to ask Rep Brown, Kingston, and Gingrey where they stand on issues related to disabilities. How has their voting record supported people with disabilities?
This is a critical time for many ideas that will improve the lives of people with disabilities and their families. I am sure that we can have a positive impact.
Gov. Deal Commits to Jobs, Higher Education, Community Life, Freedom from Institutions GA Legislators, RespectAbility USA Hail Opportunities, Supports for People With Disabilities
ATLANTA (February 27, 2014) – More job opportunities and employment supports for people with disabilities was the overarching message of GCDD's 16th Annual Disability Day at the Capitol on Thursday, February 20. Governor Nathan Deal pledged continued support, GCDD announced re-energized focus for Employment First initiatives, and keynote speaker Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President and CEO of RespectAbility USA called for the necessary votes to push the ABLE Act through the U.S. Senate (Achieving a Better Life Experience Act: H.R. 647).
"Today, more than two decades after the ADA was passed, 47% of working age Americans with disabilities are outside of the workplace compared to 28% of those without disabilities," Mizrahi said. "But we are not statistics, we are human beings with power, with education, and with value. And we know that together we can make changes a reality." RespectAbility USA is a new national, non-profit, non-partisan organization with a mission to correct and prevent the current disparity of justice for people with disabilities.
Governor Deal said, "A job serves as the launching point for independence, financial stability and...my desire for people to have access to these benefits of employment certainly extends to those in our state with disabilities. To address the barriers to employment confronting people with disabilities, we have a work group in the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities looking into these issues. I am asking them to recommend how we can move forward with an Employment First Initiative in Georgia."
"It is in this way that I hope to see more individuals able to pursue their own path to a job, a career or another form of participation in community life," Deal added.
"Governor Deal has been a friend to the disability community but today, I am proud to announce that GCDD has undertaken a process that, regardless of who is governor, we'll be talking about the passage of legislation to ensure that employment is the first option for all people of the state of Georgia," Eric Jacobson, GCDD Executive Director, said.
Rep. Keisha Waites (D-Dist 60) said to the swelling crowd, "I stand with you... to increase accessibility for every individual that may be disabled throughout the state of Georgia. I want to pull out two pieces of legislation that I have been working on with many of you in the audience...that will increase accessibility to electronic textbooks for the visually impaired and... will provide increased accessibility to your capitol, as well as the legislative office buildings next door."
Other legislators who attended the Rally included Sen. John Albers (R-Dist 56), Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Dist 13), Rep. Winfred Dukes (D-Dist 154), Rep. Michele Henson (D-86), Rep. E. Culver Rusty Kidd (Ind-Dist 145), Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan (D-Dist 39), Rep. Jimmy Pruett (R-149), Rep. Carl Rogers (R-Dist 29) and Rep. Dexter Sharper (D-Dist 177). They thanked the crowd for attending the Rally and encouraged people to contact their legislators about their needs and desires.
Rep. Dempsey, said, "We all have a story, you're right. Your personal story is what you need to share with each and every person in that building behind you."
"Know that it is time to unlock the waiting list. This is your state, my state and we deserve these services. Make no mistake about it, the people on the third floor and the second floor know that you are here," Rep. Dukes said.
2,500 community leaders and disability advocates gathered near the Capitol Steps and , in a collective voice, rallied for jobs, support for post-secondary education and release from institutions for people with disabilities. Governor Deal and Jacobson each praised the expansion of Georgia's post-secondary inclusive education program sponsored by GCDD, the Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth at Kennesaw State University and noted the expansion of similar programs to four campuses in Georgia with the newest one slated to open this fall at East Georgia State College.
This year's Disability Day Rally also recognized the 15th anniversary of the landmark 1999 Olmstead Decision in which the US Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional for two Georgia women with developmental disabilities, Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, to be institutionalized against their wishes. Curtis, the sole surviving Olmstead plaintiff, was in attendance at last Thursday's Rally. In the spirit of the Olmstead Decision, the Atlanta Legal Aid Society (ALAS) and GCDD facilitated an opportunity for six individuals who have achieved freedom from institutional life to tell their stories at a dedicated StoryCorps recording booth created on-site especially for Disability Day.
Among the six storytellers was Andrew Furey, a self-advocate, artist and Eagle Scout from Lula who fought a long, frustrating battle to receive nursing supports in his home. "I didn't want to be in a nursing home; I wanted the right to stay in my own home." "I am Andrew Furey and I am Olmstead," he declared.
ALAS and GCDD presented "I Am Olmstead – Stories of Freedom" in conjunction with StoryCorps to recognize the triumph of individuals like Andrew and provide an opportunity for others in attendance to sign up to record their own stories in the future. StoryCorps partners with the Atlanta History Center and Georgia Public Broadcasting to record, preserve, and share the stories of communities in Atlanta. Selected StoryCorps recordings air weekly on National Public Radio's Morning Edition and every recording is archived in the American Folklife Center in Washington DC. The GCDD Disability Day 2014 theme, "We All Have A Story, What's Yours?" was echoed throughout the day and could be seen on the hundreds of t-shirts that covered the State Capitol grounds in a sea of blue.
Dawn Alford, GCDD's Planning and Policy Development Specialist, gave an overview of GCDD's 2014 Legislative Agenda and noted the house approved $250,000 to be used for supportive employment for 64 individuals with disabilities.
"Georgia's economic recovery and growth must include employment for citizens with disabilities. For every single dollar that a state spends on helping a person with a disability get a job, the return is anywhere from $3 to $16," Greg Schmieg, executive director of the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA), said. "Hiring someone with a disability is not only good for business, it's good for Georgia."
Reverend Susannah Davis, pastor of Kirkwood United Church of Christ, led a prayer and a moment of silence to recognize and honor the memory of 10 Fallen Soldiers, Georgia's disability advocates recently deceased. After the rally small groups as well as groups of more than 250 from all over Georgia, adjourned to the Georgia Freight Depot for lunch, legislator visits, exhibits and other activities including banner signing, an accessible voting machine demonstration and the "I Am Olmstead – Stories of Freedom" listening station.
During this time, GCDD awarded Ralph "Robbie" Breshears from Augusta the Georgia Outstanding Self-Advocate of the Year Award - In Loving Memory of Natalie Norwood Tumlin. Disability Day at the Capitol is made possible by a host of partnering organizations and volunteers from Georgia's disability community. For a list of sponsors, visit www.GCDD.org.
GCDD, a federally funded independent state agency, works to bring about social and policy changes that promote opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities and their families to live, learn, work, play and worship in Georgia communities. A developmental disability is a chronic mental and/or physical disability that occurs before age 22 and is expected to last a lifetime. Visit www.gcdd.org for more information.
CONTACT: Valerie Meadows Suber, Public Information Director Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities 404-657-2122 (office); 404-226-0343 (mobile) www.gcdd.org2014 Disability Day Photos: http://on.fb.me/MBngkY
On February 20, over 2,000 people rallied at the Georgia State Capitol steps to speak up for more jobs and access to post-seconday education for people with disabilities. The rally, which started at the Georgia Freight Depot, received motivation and inspiration from keynote speakers Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder, CEO and president of RespectAbility and Governor Nathan Deal, who also declared the day as Disability Awareness Day.
CBS Atlanta was on site for Disability Day and spread the message that people with disabilties should receive the same opportunities as everyone else.
In its 16th year, Georgia Council for Developmental Disabilities and its advocates will gather at the Georgia State Capitol building on February 20 at 8 a.m.
Disability Day at the Capitol features a community rally, sponsored by GCDD to promote access, opportunity and meaningful community living for all Georgians, including people with disabilities and their families. Citizens with and without disabilities gather on the steps of the State Capitol to join advocates and meet with State legislators to make their voices heard.'
We hope you are able to join us for the 16th Annual Disability Day at the Capitol on Thursday February 20, 2014! This year's theme is "We all have a Story... What's Yours?" Plus, GCDD and the Atlanta Legal Aid Society celebrate the Olmstead Decision's 15th anniversary with individual "I Am Olmstead" Stories of Freedom," recorded on-site by StoryCorps.
Beginning Sunday, people with developmental disabilities, family members, and advocates from across the country will converge on Washington, DC for the Disability Policy Seminar. This is an opportunity for people to learn more about the national issues that are impacting people with developmental disabilities and then get an opportunity to tell our elected officials to Congress what we want them to do. Support for the ABLE Act and the Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities are two of the major legislative issues. The ABLE Act, or Achieving a Better Life Experience, would create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. People could set aside money in tax fee savings accounts to cover expenses such as paying for college, renting or owning a home and buying a modified van. It's kind of hard to save for some of these things when any assets you have impact the supports you need to remain independent and productive.
As GCDD works to expand post-secondary options, families have had to start thinking about how to save for college just like parents of children without disabilities.
The United Nations Convention for the Rights of People of Disabilities has become a very hot political potato. People with disabilities and their advocates argue that this is about helping other nations achieve the promise of their own Americans with Disabilities Act – a no brainer. But this bill to ratify the Convention has already gone down to defeat, as Senators walked past former Senator Bob Dole ( a staunch supporter and former Republican presidential candidate) and voted against it. The opponents claim that people who home school their children would have to adhere to United Nations rules or that "men in blue helmets would be telling us what to do". It is the paranoia that the United Nations will take over the governance of our great country. Instead, this treaty is about making sure that when people with disabilities travel to other countries they can access buildings and be free from discrimination. All we need is a few more votes. Georgia's own Senators Isackson and Chambliss could be the keys to passing this very important treaty.
While this gathering this week is a great event, I wonder about its power. If only we could find a DAY when everyone connected to disability could gather on Capitol Hill and show our real power. I know of three or four other gatherings that take place.
So I put this to our leaders – find a way to bring disability and developmental disability, mental health, aging and all the cross sections of these people together for one day, one gathering. We would have the one million person disability march/roll on the Capitol demanding closure of all institutions, more job opportunities, better education, passage of the CRPD treaty. How about next year on the 25th anniversary of the ADA? Everyone who loves someone with a disability will gather at the Washington Mall and we will show that we are a powerful group that must be reckoned with. See you there!
The following is the fourth installment of the GCDD First Thursdays blog series, a monthly blog that will share the thoughts and ideas of GCDD staff members.
February 20, 2014. Mark this date on your calendar because it is the 16th annual Disability Day at the Georgia State Capitoland you do not want to miss it. We expect over 2,000 people with disabilities, family members, providers, and advocates to attend. We also have a great line up including a keynote address by Governor Nathan Deal and Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi from RespectabilityUSA will be another dynamic keynote speaker.
RespectabilityUSA was formed last July to become a national voice for increasing employment for people with developmental disabilities. They have been working with governors across the country to become Employment First states, which means that employment should be the first option for people with developmental disabilities. Also, Atlanta Legal Aid's Director of the Disability Integration Project Talley Wells will speak about the new "I am Olmstead" campaign that is working to get people to tell their stories. StoryCorps will have a booth inside the Capitol to capture stories from people with disabilities.
And of course, there will be the annual camaraderie of thousands of people from across our state coming together, dressed in the Disability Day at the Capitol T-shirts, waving signs and cheering making this one of the most important aspects of the annual event. The relationships that are built by people who come from the mountains of North Georgia to the southern coasts; from the peanut and cotton farms of south Georgia to the metro Atlanta area come together to say we are all Georgians. We all care about people with disabilities, and we think that our elected officials should make meeting the needs of people with disabilities a priority.
I know you are saying, Eric, I would love to come, but what about the weather? I am not a weatherman but I have looked at several forecasts and most of them have predicted we will have a pretty nice day with temperatures in the upper 50's and at this point, no chance of rain or SNOW. Now I know we just had SNOWJAM 2014, so I will not guarantee anything, but even if the forecast is wrong, you can expect to have a great day!
Let's Continue the Fight – 17th Annual Disability Day at the Capitol
On a cold and wet March 5th morning, hundreds of people with developmental disabilities, family members and advocates gathered at the Liberty Plaza for the 17th annual Disability Day at the Capitol. While we were cold and wet, our enthusiasm was not dampened. Those in the crowd cheered, sang, clapped and marched as speakers presented news about what is happening in Georgia and what the future might look like.
The theme this year was “Fulfilling the Promise of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)” and celebrating the 25th anniversary of this civil rights legislation for people with disabilities. Much progress has been made and yet we still come up short when it comes to equal rights for people with disabilities. Many are still warehoused in institutions and nursing homes. Many still do not have jobs and many are still isolated in communities with only paid staff as friends. Yet as Governor Nathan Deal commented, we are making progress in getting more students on college campuses. We are working to get children out of nursing homes and the possibilities seem endless.
But we must continue to fight. As US Rep. John Lewis said in his video message to the crowd, “We must continue to get in the way and cause good trouble.” That is our role and must be central to the strategies that we use to continue creating a better place for everyone. We must continue to fight for more funds and Medicaid waivers. GCDD fought successfully with others for passage of medical marijuana legislation to help children and others live normal lives. We must make sure that staff is paid a living wage so that the threat of poverty is removed not only from people with disabilities but all Georgians. This is the kind of trouble we must make and we must get in the way of those who keep us from achieving this effort.
Over the next few months, Atlanta will host several national and international conferences related to disability in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the ADA and the opening of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Let’s show the world once more why Atlanta is such a great and welcoming city.
Eric Jacobson, GCDD Executive Director
US Representative John Lewis spoke to the crowd at Disability Day at the Capitol on March 5, 2015 to commemorate the the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Click here to read the text of his speech.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal spoke to the crowd at Disability Day at the Capitol on March 5, 2015 to commemorate the the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Click here to read the text of his speech.
Thanks to Our Disability Day Sponsors!
The ARC of
Briggs & Associates
Georgia Chambers Resource Center
Georgia Association of People Supporting Employment First (GAPSE)
ATLANTA, GA, April 30, 2015 -- Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities’ (GCDD) Spring edition of Making a Difference quarterly news magazine provides in-depth coverage of the 17th annual Disability Day at the Capitol. The day welcomed a speech by Governor Nathan Deal, and brought together the disability rights community across the State to highlight advocacy during the 2015 legislative session.
The annual event also received an exclusive message from US Rep. John Lewis (D-District 5) on continuing to advocate for equal rights and honoring the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The magazine recaps the legislative session and GCDD’s advocacy successes for post-secondary education, the Unlock the Waiting Lists! Campaign and other legislation affecting the disability community. The magazine brings attention to the execution of Warren Lee Hill and how the community needs to come together to lower Georgia’s burden of proof through its Expert Update and Straight Talk essays.
Making a Difference also continues its yearlong commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with an article from guest writer Mark Johnson, the director of advocacy at the Shepherd Center and chair of The ADA Legacy Project.
GCDD hosted its 17th annual Disability Day at the Capitol on March 5 at the new Liberty Plaza. Governor Deal spoke to the crowd about the newest universities to have post-secondary education options for students with disabilities, highlighted continued work to get Georgians with disabilities into communities rather than institutions and proclaimed March as Disability Awareness Month. Deal also commemorated the 25th anniversary of the ADA at this year’s Disability Day, which was themed “Fulfilling the Promise of the ADA.”
During the 2015 legislative session, GCDD’s advocacy team hosted Advocacy Days encouraging people to learn and discuss disability issues with state legislators. The team focused on Employment First, Inclusive Post-Secondary Education, The Family Care Act and the Unlock the Waiting Lists! Campaign, which is a coalition of organizations to get more Georgians waivers for the supports and services they need.
The team’s efforts resulted in the passage of House Resolution 642, led by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-District 13), which formed a study committee on the benefits of an Employment First policy and Post-Secondary Education options for Georgians with disabilities. Under Unlock the Waiting Lists!, GCDD addressed the low reimbursement rate for caregivers under the Independent Care Waiver Program (ICWP). The advocacy brought a $.75 increase under ICWP. GCDD also advocated more waivers under the New Options Waiver (NOW) and the Comprehensive Supports Waiver Program (NOW/COMP) resulting in 75 new waivers under the 2016 fiscal budget.
Making a Difference covered the annual Georgia Winter Institute retreat held in Columbus, GA that brought together over 150 people in the disability community and professional fields. The event works to cultivate new ideas and practices towards inclusive and integrated communities.
In Perspectives, Reverend Bill Gaventa and Community Café developer Robin Higa share their thoughts on how to use communities to build and strengthen relationships. Gaventa highlights the partnership of inclusive faith-based communities and employment opportunities while Higa approaches building relationships to make connections and growing networks for more opportunities.
Lesa Hope, an evaluator on disability-related issues in criminal and civil cases, discusses Warren Lee Hill and the need to change Georgia’s burden of proof for an intellectual disability in the court system in Expert Update. Currently, Georgia has the toughest burden of proof in the nation.
GCDD’s next quarterly meeting will be held in Atlanta on July 16-17, 2015. All meetings are open to the public.
About Making a Difference: Making a Difference is published by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD). Current and past issues can be accessed online at gcdd.org and hard copies can be requested by contacting the GCDD Office of Public Information. Making a Difference is available online in accessible PDF and large print format, as well as on audio by request. www.gcdd.org/news-a-media/making-a-difference-magazine.html
About Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD): The mission of the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) is to bring about social and policy changes that promote opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities and their families to live, learn, work, play and worship in Georgia communities. www.gcdd.org
CONTACT: Valerie Meadows Suber, Public Information Director Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities 404-657-2122 (office) 404-801-7873 (mobile) www.gcdd.org
MEDIA ADVISORY Jobs, Education Among Legislative Priorities 2,000 People Will Meet, Tell Stories, Call To Gold Dome For Support
WHAT: One of the largest public gatherings held annually during the official legislative session emphasizes the statewide need for community-based services and vital supports for people with developmental disabilities. The event is themed "We All Have A Story...What's Yours?" and in the spirit of the day, attendees will be encouraged to rove through the crowd sharing stories. Select "I Am Olmstead" stories will be recorded by StoryCorps and, at the Freight Depot, people can sign up for future StoryCorps sessions as well as hear pre-recorded narratives of "I Am Olmstead – Stories of Freedom" at listening stations.
WHY: Georgia is a focal point for disability rights and home state of The Olmstead Decision, the 1999 landmark US Supreme Court case brought by the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, on behalf of two Georgia women, affirming the right of people with disabilities to live in the community rather than institutions and nursing homes. Freedom for people in institutions is part of GCDD's 2014 legislative agenda along with: • Supported employment in the community • Inclusive post-secondary educational opportunities • Unlock the Waiting Lists! Campaign, Children's Freedom Initiative (CFI), housing voucher programs, changes in the standard to prove intellectual disabilities in capital punishment cases, and the Family Care Act (HB 290).
Over 7,500 Georgians are on the waiting list to receive funding of community-based services and vital supports. One in five Georgians and about 57 million Americans have some type of disability as an occurrence of birth, injury or longevity.
WHO: Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD, www.gcdd.org), Sponsor/Host: Eric E. Jacobson, executive director; Mitzi Proffitt, chair
Capitol Rally at 11 am: • Governor Nathan Deal will address the gathering. • Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder, CEO and president of RespectAbility, will deliver keynote about "empowering people with disabilities to live the American dream" through jobs and voting rights. • Talley Wells, director of the Disability Integration Project, Atlanta Legal Aid Society. • Andrew Furey, self-advocate, artist and Eagle Scout from Lula who fought a long, frustrating battle to receive nursing supports in his home. • State legislators and other elected officials.
WHEN: Thursday, February 20, 2014 9:00 am – Registration and Exhibit Hall: accessible voting machine demonstration, creation of a giant collective story narrative collage, sign-making, plus StoryCorps listening / sign-up station and other activities Georgia Freight Depot 11:00 am – Rally at the Capitol Steps 12:00 pm – Lunch (Legislators, Constituents, Advocates) Georgia Freight Depot 12:45 pm – Advocacy Awards
WHERE: Capitol steps, Atlanta: Washington Street side and adjacent Georgia Freight Depot
Media packets available for pick up at white "Media Tent" on Capitol steps behind the podium.
CONTACT: Valerie Meadows Suber, Public Information Director Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities 404-657-2122 (office); 404-226-0343 (mobile) Follow Updates on Twitter at #GCDDAnnualDisabilityDay
MEDIA ADVISORY:March 5, 2015 17th Annual Disability Day at the Capitol Theme Pays Tribute to the Americans with Disabilities Act 25th Anniversary
WHAT: GCDD’s Disability Day at the Capitol Rally will unite thousands of Georgians who travel across the state in support of legislation that will promote the independence, inclusion, productivity and self-determination of people with disabilities. Each year they gather with family members, policy makers, business leaders and service providers to celebrate growth in community, advocate for effective legislation and reignite the bonds of friendship. The theme of this year’s event is “Fulfilling the Promise of the ADA”; in addition to celebrating the significant milestone of this impactful legislation, Disability Day continues a year-long schedule of activities throughout the State that will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The days' activities include the following:
ADA Pledge: Attendees will be encouraged to sign an official pledge to actively recommit to the fulfillment of the ADA and become part of the nationwide series of events that will pay tribute to the passage of this historic disability rights legislation.
ADA Proclamation: Gov. Nathan Deal will recognize the anniversary by announcing Georgia’s ADA Proclamation that recommits the State to reaching full ADA compliance while reaffirming the principles of inclusion and equality.
ADA Exhibit in the Rotunda of the Capitol: A three-panel banner displaying the “preserve, educate and celebrate” slogan of the National ADA Legacy Project will be presented by GCDD with a table of informational material that includes current copies of its quarterly news publication Making a Difference magazine.
Advocacy 101 Training at the Georgia Freight Depot: GCDD’s public policy team will provide a primer on GCDD’s legislative priorities and offer first time advocates tips on how to speak to legislators at the Capitol.
WHY: More than 1 million people with disabilities live in Georgia, representing one of the fastest growing socio-economic segments of the State. Each year they gather with family members, policy makers, business leaders and service providers at the State Capitol to celebrate growth in community, advocate for effective legislation and reignite the bonds of friendship.
The theme of the event supports GCDD’s mission and 2015 legislative agenda of promoting social justice, ensuring voting rights and encouraging accessible employment, all of which are necessary elements for independence and inclusive communities. The 2015 legislative agenda also includes support of:
An Employment First policy in Georgia - Employment in the general workforce at or above minimum wage is the priority service outcome for individuals with disabilities in the publicly funded service system.
The Unlock the Waiting Lists! Collaborative - Unlock the Waiting Lists! advocates investing in Georgians with disabilities so they and their families can live full lives and contribute to Georgia communities and the Georgia economy.
Inclusive post-secondary education - Inclusive post-secondary education provides opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities to access higher education.
The Family Care Act - This would allow Georgians who have earned sick leave to use up to five days of that leave to care for sick or injured members of their immediate family.
WHO: Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD, www.gcdd.org), Sponsor/Host (Mitzi Proffitt, chair and Eric E. Jacobson, executive director)
Capitol Rally at 11 am: Fulfilling the Promise of the ADA
Governor Nathan Deal to address the gathering
Exclusive first showing! Disability Day ADA 25th anniversary video message to GCDD from Congressman John Lewis
Mark Johnson, national chair, ADA Legacy Project and Shepherd Center Advocacy Director delivers keynote
Rev. Susannah Davis, Kirkwood United Church of Christ leads a moment of silence to honor the memory of "Fallen Soldiers," Georgia’s recently deceased disability advocates
Joey Stuckey, known as the Music Minister of Macon, sings the Star Spangled Banner acappella and Georgia On My Mind self-accompanied on guitar
State legislators and other elected officials bring greetings and join constituents
WHEN: Thursday, March 5, 2015
9:00 am – Registration and Exhibit Hall, Georgia Freight Depot: 11:00 am – Rally at Liberty Plaza, the Capitol’s new “front door”. 12:00 pm – Lunch (Legislators, Constituents, Advocates), Georgia Freight Depot
WHERE: Liberty Plaza: Capitol Rally. The new venue is located at the intersection of Capitol Avenue and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard Georgia Freight Depot: Exhibit Hall, Advocacy 101 training, t-shirt distribution & lunch
Media packets available for pick up at white "Media Tent" adjacent to stage.
CONTACT: Valerie Meadows Suber, Public Information Director Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities 404-657-2122 (office) 404-801-7873 (mobile) www.gcdd.org Follow Updates on Twitter at #GCDDAnnualDisabilityDay # # #
Governor Nathan Deal’s Keynote Pledges Full ADA Compliance in Georgia Plus Exclusive 17th Annual Disability Day Message from Congressman John Lewis
ATLANTA - More than 2,500 disability advocates and supporters are expected to attend the 17th Annual Disability Day at the Capitol rally hosted by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) on Thursday, March 5, at 11 am. Disability Day is among the largest public gatherings held each year when the Georgia General Assembly meets. Advocates travel from across the state to unite in support of legislation that will promote the independence, inclusion, productivity and self-determination of people with disabilities. The theme of this year’s event is “Fulfilling the Promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).”
“It sends a powerful message to have the participation of so many advocates and supporters of disability rights at this Rally, as we mark 25 years since passage of the ADA,” said GCDD Executive Director Eric Jacobson. “Each year, Disability Day at the Capitol grows in size and scope. We are particularly honored to have Governor Deal return and we are very proud to have the authentic Civil Rights voice of Congressman John Lewis speak to us about Social Justice, as only he can.” Congressman Lewis shares his personal family connection to disabilities in an exclusive Disability Day message.
Governor Nathan Deal will deliver the Keynote address and present an ADA Commendation which recommits Georgia to reach full ADA compliance. Mark Johnson, National Chair of the ADA Legacy Project (www.adalegacy.com) and Shepherd Center Advocacy Director, will speak about Disability Rights as Civil Rights, including the ADA Legacy Tour and campaign to spread the ADA message, “preserve,” “educate” and “celebrate,” throughout the nation. Rev. Susannah Davis, Pastor of Kirkwood United Church of Christ, will lead the audience in recognition of “fallen soldiers,” members of Georgia’s disability community who died within the last year. GCDD chair, Mitzi Proffitt will emcee with Jacobson throughout the Rally program which ends at 12:30 PM
Award-winning guitarist and vocalist Joey Stuckey (www.joeystuckey.com), the official Music Ambassador of Macon, will perform three standard selections: Star Spangled Banner acappella, Georgia on My Mind and This Little Light of Mine. He has studied a range of music genres with many accomplished professors and renowned musicians, including jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan. Stuckey lost his eyesight and sense of smell as an infant as result of a brain tumor and he developed an early love of music from his mother’s enthusiasm for opera and his father’s penchant for country and western. In addition to performing and managing his recording studio, Shadow Sounds Productions, Stuckey teaches music, delivers motivational talks and advocates for access to music education for blind children. His new single, Blind Man Drivin’, will be released during a 10-day tour of the UK later this month.
Closing the program, Rally leaders will rouse the crowd with chants promoting the themes of the day as they march past the Capitol to the Freight Depot. One in five Americans lives with disabilities as an occurrence of birth, injury or longevity, representing one of the fastest growing socio-economic sectors in the country. Georgia has one million children and adults living with disabilities.
GCDD’s annual Disability Day at the Capitol is an opportunity for members of the disability community and their supporters to connect with each other, their elected officials and the broader community. This year’s focus on the ADA coincides with GCDD’s mission and legislative agenda for achieving inclusive communities, voting rights, access to education and jobs. GCDD’s 2015 legislative agenda includes:
An Employment First policy in Georgia – promotes employment in the general workforce at or above minimum wage as the first option for individuals with disabilities.
The Unlock the Waiting Lists! Campaign - advocates for community based services and supports for individuals with disabilities to live free in the community rather than reside in institutions. (www.unlockthewaitinglists.com)
Children’s Freedom Initiative - works to bring children out of institutions and into the community in homes with loving families. (www.georgiacfi.org)
Inclusive post-secondary education - provides opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities to access higher education and social growth.
The Family Care Act - allows flexibility for families to use their sick time to care for each other.
Disability Day activities begin at 9 am at the Georgia Freight Depot with t-shirt pick-up, sign-making, exhibits, including accessible voting machine demonstrations, and signature collection for the official ADA Pledge (www.adaanniversary.org/pledge) for those who want to sign-up to actively recommit to the fulfillment of the ADA. The GCDD Public Policy Team will offer Advocacy 101 training beginning at 9:30 am followed by visits to the Capitol to meet legislators. Attendees will also have the opportunity to visit an ADA Exhibit in the Rotunda of the Capitol that will highlight the “preserve,” “educate,” and “celebrate” slogan of the National ADA Legacy Project and a table of source materials including current issues of GCDD’s quarterly news magazine, Making A Difference.
The 11 am Rally will take place in Liberty Plaza, the Capitol’s new “front door”, located at the intersection of Capitol Avenue and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.
About GCDD: GCDD, a federally funded independent state agency, works to bring about social and policy changes that promote opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities and their families to live, learn, work, play and worship in Georgia communities. A developmental disability is a chronic mental and/or physical disability that occurs before age 22 and is expected to last a lifetime. Visit www.GCDD.org for more information.
CONTACT: Valerie Meadows Suber, Public Information Director Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities 404-657-2122 (office) 404-801-7873 (mobile) www.gcdd.org Follow Updates on Twitter at #GCDDAnnualDisabilityDay # # #