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Over 2,000 Georgians Expected to Meet at the Capitol Steps on GCDD's annual Disability Day

GCDD's 16th Annual Disability Day at the Capitol: Over 2,000 Georgians Expected to Meet at the Capitol Steps and Affirm "We All Have A Story...What's Yours?" 
Governor Deal to Address the Rally Marking 15th Anniversary of The Olmstead Decision 

ATLANTA, GA (Feb. 10, 2014) –Governor Nathan Deal will speak and Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder, CEO and president of RespectAbility, will deliver the keynote address to Georgians with disabilities, their families and advocates at the 16th Annual Disability Day at the Capitol, sponsored by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (, on Thursday, February 20 at 11am. The event also celebrates the 15th anniversary of The Olmstead Decision, the June 1999 landmark ruling that paved the way for people with disabilities to leave institutions and live in the community. An anticipated 2,000 people will gather to share with legislators how disability affects their lives and tell personal stories at the event themed "We All Have A Story...What's Yours?"

"Each year thousands of Georgians look forward to GCDD's Disability Day at the Capitol because they know legislators will hear us when we speak with one voice," Eric E. Jacobson, GCDD Executive Director, said. "This year, we'll share stories of the common threads of disability that touch and unify us. GCDD advocates for opportunities for jobs and post-secondary education which are critical components in this movement toward social justice."

Laszlo-Mizrahi will talk about of "empowering people with disabilities to live the American dream" through jobs and voting rights. She is a proven social entrepreneur and change agent who founded RespectAbility, an organization dedicated to unlocking the potential of all Americans, including people with disabilities, who want to contribute to growing our nation's prosperity.

People at the rally will share their stories and practice deep listening to foster conversation, understanding and appreciation for the varied gifts, skills, dreams and contributions of all people. Students from Partnerships for Success, a GCDD-sponsored statewide high school student leadership program promoting community service and peer relationship-building between youth with and without disabilities, will serve as volunteers throughout the day. At the Freight Depot, individuals will be able to sign up for future opportunities to share their stories on StoryCorps, a program heard weekly on National Public Radio's (NPR's) Morning Edition and archived in the American Folklife Center.

As part of the 15th anniversary celebration of the landmark Olmstead Decision, the Atlanta Legal Aid Society will host a dedicated StoryCorps recording booth inside the Gold Dome where people who have moved out of institutions will tell their personal "I Am Olmstead – Stories of Freedom." The landmark Olmstead Decision by 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.
Freedom for people in institutions is part of GCDD's 2014 legislative agenda along with the Unlock the Waiting Lists! Campaign and the Children's Freedom Initiative (CFI). Other GCDD legislative priorities include support and expansion of inclusive post-secondary education opportunities such as Kennesaw State University's Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth and ASPIRE (Active Student Participation Inspires Real Engagement), a Department of Education program that encourages self-determination. Four other priorities round out GCDD's 2014 agenda: supported employment in the community, housing voucher programs, changes in the standard to prove intellectual disabilities in capital punishment cases, and the Family Care Act (HB 290).

"Our legislative agenda priorities seek Real Learning, Real Careers, Real Homes and more...rights all Georgians should expect and enjoy, whether they happen to have a disability or not," Jacobson said.

GCDD Chairwoman Mitzi Proffitt introduce Governor Nathan Deal and legislators from both sides of the aisle are expected to address the crowd during the Rally. Talley Wells, director of the Disability Integration Project at the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, will provide an overview of the "I Am Olmstead – Stories of Freedom" project. He will introduce a self-advocate who will tell the story of living in an institution and leaving it for a better life in the community.

GCDD's Disability Day at the Capitol begins at 9 am on February 20 with t-shirt pick up, activities, information and exhibits including an accessible voting machine demonstration and listening stations for "I Am Olmstead – Stories of Freedom" with pre-recorded narratives. After the 11 am Rally, legislators from both sides of the aisle will join attendees for lunch around 12:15 pm (first come, first served) at the Georgia Freight Depot.

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 for more information

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

Tags: Disability Day, GCDD, Georgia, Atlanta