Press Releases

GCDD Announces the 17th annual Disability Day at the Capitol dedicated to the ADA, Provides an in-depth Preview of its Legislative Agenda and Examines the New Home and Community Based Settings Rule in the Winter issue of Making a Difference

ATLANTA, GA, February 18, 2015 -- Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities’ (GCDD) Winter edition of Making a Difference quarterly news magazine focuses on advocacy by announcing the 17th annual Disability Day at the Capitol and providing an in-depth preview of what GCDD wants in the current legislative session. It also covers the new Home and Community-Based Settings Rule (HCBS) passed by Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS). The magazine continues its year-long 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.

2015 kicked off a new legislative session in the Georgia General Assembly, and Making a Difference highlighted GCDD’s legislative agenda advocating for people with disabilities. The focus is on Employment First, Inclusive Post-Secondary Education, The Family Care Act and Unlock the Waiting Lists! Campaign, a coalition of organizations to get more Georgians waivers for the supports and services they need.

The legislative session also brings GCDD’s signature event, Disability Day at the Capitol, to the new Liberty Plaza across the street from the Georgia State Capitol, on March 5. With notable speakers, including Governor Nathan Deal, and over 2,000 attendees, Disability Day will unite advocates in support of legislation promoting independence, inclusion, self-determination and more.

The theme of this year’s Disability Day is “Fulfilling the Promise of the ADA”, which continues the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act -- all leading up to the national celebration on July 26, 2015.

Mark Johnson announces Phase 2 of the ADA Legacy Tour, which will kick off in March. He also brings attention to the Six by ‘15 Campaign that supports advocacy for employment, community living, education, transition, healthy living and early childhood.
In keeping with the ADA commemoration, Making a Difference reached out to millennials and asked them how the ADA has impacted their lives. Charlie Miller (Atlanta), Chad Roberts (Cherokee County) and Jonathan Waters (Atlanta) all shared their stories in Perspectives.

The Department of Community Health (DCH) traveled across the State to gain input from people with disabilities, their families and caregivers about the new mandate concerning the HCBS rule that affected provider-owned and operated settings in Georgia. Making a Difference examined the new rule and how it would affect people with disabilities. “This mandate is raising the bar on quality of life and we are moving away from a ‘menu of services’ and towards a person-centered and self-directed focus,” said Marcey Alter, Deputy Medicaid Director, Aging and Special Populations, at DCH.

Riad Akhras (Eatonton), in Straight Talk, reflected on having the ability of choice. “Making real choices for people with disabilities shouldn’t be choice itself,” writes Akhras, who takes private karate classes -- an activity of his choosing.
GCDD also welcomed six new advisory council members. Parent advocates Marcia Singson (Winder), Brenda Munoz (Duluth), Pam Hunter Dempsey (Atlanta), Rickie Jodie Wren (Mabelton), Trace Haythorn (Atlanta) joined the Council along with self-advocate Eren Kyle Denberg (Atlanta).

GCDD’s next quarterly meeting will be held in Atlanta on April 16-17, 2015. All meetings are open to the public.

Media links:
To read Making a Difference Winter 2015, visit
For photos of Making a Difference Winter 2015, visit
For information on the 17th annual Disability Day at the Capitol, visit

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 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.

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.

Valerie Meadows Suber, Public Information Director
Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities
404-657-2122 (office) 404-801-7873 (mobile)


Tags: Making a Difference