Press Releases

GCDD Receives an Exclusive Message from Rep John Lewis, Welcomes Gov. Nathan Deal and Disability Advocates at Disability Day at The Capitol, Recaps the 2015 Legislative Session and Focuses on Community Building in the Spring issue of Making a Difference

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.

Media links:
To read Making a Difference Spring 2015, visit
For photos of Making a Difference Spring 2015, visit
For videos and photos from 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: Disability Day, GCDD, Georgia, Capitol