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3,500 & Governor Deal expected at Disability Vote Rally Feb 18, Liberty Plaza

Join GCDD in Celebrating 18 Years and Final Disability Day at the Capitol Rally February 18


ATLANTA (February 17, 2016) – Witness a powerful and unforgettable scene as 3,500 disability advocates from across the state meet with lawmakers, rally at Liberty Plaza and march to the Georgia Freight Depot on the final Disability Day at the Capitol, sponsored by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) on Thursday, February 18, 2016.  The Disability Vote – Feel the Power is the theme of the day, beginning at 9:00 AM with exhibits at the Georgia Freight Depot, followed by the main Liberty Plaza rally at 11:00 AM, returning to the Freight Depot for lunch with legislators at 12 Noon.

Governor Nathan Deal will address the gathering during the main rally and deliver a proclamation declaring March as Developmental Disability Awareness Month in Georgia. Given the day’s focus on voting, GCDD Chair, Mitzi Proffitt, will welcome the crowd with a message to be mindful of the importance of their vote as Super Tuesday (March 1) quickly approaches.

Eric Jacobson, the GCDD Executive Director who has taken the organization’s 18 year journey of sponsoring consecutive annual Disability Days, will address the growth and changes for the future of the event that has become the largest annual rally at the Capitol held to coincide with the State’s official legislative session. Keynote speaker Ted Jackson, a GOTV elections strategist and the Community Organizing Director for the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, will share insights on the importance of learning what works to gain real attention for effective advocacy and why voting matters.

Jackson, who is also a member of the California Secretary of State’s Voter Accessibility Advisory Committee, talks about electoral power, the ability to have a measured and visible affect on an election.  “Learning from the success of the Suffrage Movement, the rise of union domination through the Workers’ Rights Movement, the achievements of the African-American Civil Rights Movement and accomplishments of the Marriage Equality Movement, we must look at their common denominators for triumph,” Jackson said.  “It took decades of painstaking detail in connecting with voters one-on-one and in blocs, finding out what motivates them and using those messages to drive them out to vote.”  

GCDD is the State’s leader in encouraging advocates while helping connect the disability community to State lawmakers and local civic leaders. To that end GCDD Executive Director, Jacobson said “Let it be clear Disability Day at the Capitol served a good purpose, it worked and it is time to go to the next level. So, we will build on what we have learned from this advocacy process and set our sights on the future.” Jacobson continued, “Our new framework for legislative advocacy will allow GCDD to support more intensive, advocacy trainings and coordination of visits to the Capitol for more targeted participation. An incremental two-year phase-in of the new approach, called GCDD Advocacy Days, has shown us that this strategy will help build stronger advocates who are likely to impact lawmakers more effectively.”

The goal is to focus Georgia’s disability community to have an impact on the 2016 general election cycle. Exhibits and activities include:

  • Voter registration, demonstrations of accessible voting machines designed for persons who are blind, low-vision, deaf, hard of hearing and wheelchair users.
  • Georgia Disability History Archive:  The  Georgia Disability History Alliance, a coalition of advocates and organizations working to preserve and celebrate Georgia’s rich disability history, will gather memorabilia from attendees who want to donate items to the Disability History Archive which will be housed at the University of Georgia.
  • Trace Haythorn, GCDD council member and parent advocate, will lead the moment of silence honoring Georgia’s “Fallen Soldiers,” recently deceased disability advocates.
  • State legislators and other elected officials will bring greetings and hear from constituents.

More than one million Georgians have disabilities and approximately 652,000 are voting-age. Their voices, and their votes, are critical to the political decision-making process. One in five, or 20 percent of all Americans have some type of disability as an occurrence of birth, injury or longevity; chances are, if a person does not have a disability themselves, they have a loved one, friend, neighbor or co-worker who does or will acquire a disability in their lifetime.

Disability Day at the Capitol is made possible by a host of partnering organizations and volunteers. For a list of sponsors, visit

Disability Day at the Capitol is open to the public and media packets are available for pick-up at the white “Media Tent” adjacent to the Liberty Plaza stage.

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) 404-801-7873 (mobile)  
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Tags: Advocacy