Real Influence

Rep. Tony Coelho (D - California) speaking about employment for people with disabilities in the Georgia Senate with (l to r) Hannah Hibben, Debbie Hibben, Elizabeth Appley and Eric Jacobson. During the early part of the planning process, the GCDD’s Council members identified the need to better market the agency, its name and its product as a top priority. The Council currently publishes several publications whose outcome is to provide people with the information necessary to make informed decisions about their lives and advocate for changes in the system. Making a Difference and Public Policy for the People are sent to over 3500 individuals through the mail, e-mail and the Internet. The GCDD’s website continues to be a tool that people can use to find information. The GCDD staff consistently meets with members of the media to respond toquestions and pitchstories. In addition, media roundtables are held when the Council’s quarterly meeting is held in sites other than Atlanta.

GCDD Vision

The GCDD’s priority for Real Influence is to increase awareness of the Council’s activities and promote initiatives supporting its goal and mission. Advocates throughout the state look to the GCDD as a leader in assisting individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to become better advocates and have the skills need to support initiatives throughout the State. In addition, the Council has worked in coalition to educate elected officials about the needs of persons with developmental disabilities and their families. Leadership provided during the General Assembly has resulted in increased funding and passage of legislation that continues to move the State in the right direction. With the upcoming reauthorization of the Developmental Disabilities Bill of Rights and Assistance Act, the need to develop the same kinds of relationship with federal legislators is very apparent. The GCDD priority is to support coalitions and advocates in promoting coherent public policies for integrated life in the community for people with developmental disabilities and the people who support them.

GCDD Supported Efforts


Disability Day at the Capitol - This annual legislative rally is the largest held in Georgia. Two thousand people come from across the State to advocate for disability issues. Participants make signs, wear matching t-shirts, chant and hear presentations. They march to the Freight Depot where they have lunch, network and look at informative exhibits. Click here to see information on the 2016 Disability Day. Click here to view videos from previous events.

Advocacy Days at the Capitol - During the legisltive session, GCDD holds a series of advocacy days along with the annual Disability Day at the Capitol. Each advocacy day will have training, visits with legislators and networking with others in our community. Click here to view information on the 2016 Advocacy Days.

Public Awareness

"Voices Beyond the Mirror" Video Series -GCDD has created a series of public awareness video clips to mark the 40th Anniversary of the DD Bill of Rights Act of 1971 called “Voices Beyond the Mirror.” The video series provides a thoughtful look into the everyday realities of living with different types of disabilities. Click here to view the videos.

Public Policy

GCDD Listening Tour holds a series of community dialogues across the state to talk about issues including education, housing, jobs and regional transportation. It gives people with disabilities and their families a chance to voice their concerns and issues. It makes sure their needs are part of the larger community’s agenda. Click here to find out information on the GCDD Listening Tours.

Make Your Voices Heard: Dawn Alford, planning and public policy develepment specialist, participated with Rep. Pat Gardner in a webinar hosted by Parent 2 Parent. The video looks at how you can reach out to your local representatives to talk about the issues most important to you.

Public Information

Making a Difference Magazine - Making a Difference is a quarterly magazine that provides information on pertinent topics related to disability. It includes stories of individuals and families in Georgia, perspectives on hot issues, resources, a calendar of upcoming events, straight talk from a person with disabilities and an ongoing update on the life of a young woman who has disabilities. (View the magazine.)
Public Policy for the People Newsletter - Public Policy for the People is a weekly publication that is produced during the legislative session to keep people informed about the budgets and bills that are being tracked. It does not editorialize. It just gives the facts. It is a useful tool to help citizens and elected officials keep up with the action at the Capitol. (View the newsletter) Website - GCDD has a newly launched interactive website that allows interested parties to find up-to-date information at their convenience. It provides information about GCDD, its projects, disability issues and much more. (

Media Roundtables - As the GCDD moves around the state to host its quarterly Council meetings, one component is to hold a media roundtable in those locations. The Media Roundtables are usually held at the Chamber of Commerce. Newspaper, radio and television media representatives are invited to attend. Valerie Meadows Suber, Public Information Director, and Eric Jacobson, GCDD Executive Director, serve as hosts. There are usually a few family members and advocates who come to share what the local issues or concerns are. Materials about using People First Language are distributed. The media is encouraged to come and cover the Public Forum that is held the next night.

GCDD Public Policy Initiatives

Multi-Year Funding Plan - To encourage the legislature to pass a multi-year funding plan to project cost of services in the NOW/COMP waivers, ICWP, family support and provider reimbursement rates over the next five years.

Medicaid Buy-In - Promote changes to the Medicaid Buy-in funding structure to enable more individuals with disabilities and personal assistance needs to take advantage of the program.

Tax Expenditure Report - The GCDD signed on to support the catalog of tax breaks and incentives awarded to businesses by legislators each year in order to assess their cost benefit to the state budget.

Respectful Language - The GCDD signed on with the ARC of Georgia to support the removal of words like moron, imbecile, retarded, idiot, from the Official Code of Georgia.

Other Partners and Resources

View Our Real Influence Resources