Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities Successfully Holds Advocacy Days at Georgia State Capitol
Event brings people with disabilities together with legislators
June 7, 2017 (Atlanta, GA) – The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) held its second series of Advocacy Days at the Georgia State Capitol during the 2017 legislative session. The five days covered many different issues that affect all Georgians with developmental disabilities, including Medicaid waivers, inclusive post-secondary education (IPSE) and employment.
Advocacy Days allows advocates with developmental disabilities from around the state to speak with policy makers about what issues affect them.
DD Waivers Day advocated for more funding toward Medicaid waivers for people with disabilities. There are almost 9,000 people waiting for waivers.
Many young advocates participated in Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) Day. IPSE Day was focused on the need for increased funding for programs for college students with developmental disabilities who would generally not qualify for general admissions.
At Employment Advocacy Day, many legislators including Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta), Rep. Valencia Stovall (D-Forest Park) and Rep. Tony Coelho (D-California) attended to meet and speak with advocates.
Coelho, the primary sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), was the keynote speaker addressing why having a job is important to the disability community. Coelho, who lives with epilepsy, spoke with advocates and the state legislature encouraging policy to support employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. “It is an opportunity to participate in society just like everybody else, an opportunity to fail like everybody else,” he said.
Enable Work and Families Day focused on the Family Care Act, PeachWork and Phillip Payne Personal Assistance Program while Home and Community Day drew attention to the Georgia Code for the replacement of terms like mental retardation with intellectual disabilities.
GCDD’s Executive Director Eric Jacobson explained why advocacy is about strength in numbers. “While 20% of the population has disabilities, when you count everyone who knows someone or cares about someone with a disability, it’s a much bigger group. Think about how powerful we can be.” Advocacy Days averaged 90 people each.
Partnering with other agencies and coalitions has allowed GCDD to increase advocacy reach and speak, as a bigger group, on issues that affect the developmental disability community. Among those partners were:
- Georgia Inclusive Postsecondary Education Consortium
- Statewide Independent Living Council
- Proof to a Preponderance of the Evidence Coalition
- The Arc Georgia
- American Wheelchair Society
- Georgia Job/Family Collaborative
- People First of Georgia
Read more about Advocacy Days in the Spring 2017 of GCDD’s Making a Difference Magazine, online at https://gcdd.org/news-a-media/
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. www.gcdd.org