Press Releases

GCDD Welcomes National Disability Leaders for Atlanta's 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act Celebration, Sponsors 10th anniversary symposium of the Children’s Freedom Initiative, and Reports on the Olmstead Settlement Agreement between

ATLANTA, GA, August 19, 2015 -- Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities’ (GCDD) Summer edition of Making a Difference quarterly news magazine commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) with coverage of the ADA25 Georgia Legacy Parade and the national ADA Legacy Tour stop in Atlanta. The magazine also covered the Children’s Freedom Initiative Symposium: A 10-Year Celebration and Call to Action to measure the Initiative’s progress to date and bring attention to the remaining 41 children still languishing in skilled nursing facilities or private institutions. The magazine also provides an update on the status of the 2010 Department of Justice settlement agreement with the State to move people out of institutions by June 30, 2015. The ADA25 Georgia Legacy Parade in Downtown Atlanta and the national ADA Legacy Tour honored the landmark legislation that called for equal opportunities and access for people with disabilities.

The ADA25 Georgia Legacy Parade brought together hundreds of disability advocates and their supporters who marched from Hardy Ivy Park to Centennial Olympic Park. Claudia Gordon, chief of staff at the US Department of Labor’s Office of Contract Compliance; Eleanor Smith, founder of Concrete Change; Leslie Irby-Peoples, Ms. Wheelchair USA 2015; Mark Johnson, director of advocacy at the Shepherd Center; and GCDD Executive Director Eric Jacobson joined the parade frontline, which was led by the Shiloh High School Drum Corps.

“We are to be defined not by our limits – but by our potential,” said Gordon, who delivered the keynote speech. She is known as the first deaf African American female attorney in the United States, and is the former White House Office of Public Engagement Advisor to the Disability Community.

Disability Pride Day was officially proclaimed by staff representing City of Atlanta Councilman Kwanzaa Hall. Simi Linton, disability rights activist and creator of the film, Invitation To Dance, read from her book, Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity. Full Radius Dance, a professional physically integrated dance company, closed the ADA25 Georgia Legacy Parade program with a performance that received a standing ovation and exuberant cheers from onlookers who took notice from surrounding areas of the park. Access video of the parade, speakers and performance by clicking here.

The Children’s Freedom Initiative anniversary symposium, which was held at the Atlanta Community Food Bank, welcomed Georgia Department of Community Health Commissioner Clyde Reese, Georgia Division of Family and Children Services Director Bobby Cagle, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Frank Berry and Kim Grier, adult guardianship specialist at the Division of Aging in the Department of Human Services. The state agency leaders served on an expert panel to discuss moving the remaining 41 children who are still living in skilled nursing homes or private institutions into the community.

The magazine also explored where Georgia stands on the settlement agreement handed down by the Department of Justice in 2010 to move the people out of institutions and into inclusive communities. The settlement was necessary due to the lack of compliance to Olmstead v. L.C., the landmark US Supreme Court case that declared people with disabilities living in institutions was unconstitutional.

In the Making a Difference Perspectives sections, Beth English, executive director of Easter Seals Southern Georgia, explains why children need communities to thrive, and Pam Walley, parent advocate, explained the need for more resources to provide adequate supports and services that would help people have better lives in their communities.

GCDD’s next quarterly meeting will be held in Pine Mountain, GA from October 14-16, 2015. Council meetings are always open to the public, however, the official Fall proceedings will include an expanded strategic planning session to focus on the Council’s work over the next five years. Now through September, the public is encouraged to participate in and online survey and invited to attend one of a series of nine public forums scheduled throughout the state on the following dates:

Dalton, August 31 Columbus, September 10
Gainesville, September 1 Athens, September 24
Atlanta, September 2 Savannah, September 28
Macon, September 8 Augusta, September 29
Albany, September 9 Atlanta, September 30

Link: GCDD Strategic Plan Public Forums & Survey

Media links:
To read Making a Difference Summer 2015, visit
For photos of Making a Difference Summer 2015, 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
Editor-in-Chief, Making a Difference magazine
Work 404.657.2122, Cell 404.801.7873
Twitter: @georgiacouncil