Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (DDAM) raises awareness of the inclusion and contributions of people with developmental disabilities in all aspects of community life, and it’s a time to explore the work we still need to do to remove barriers.

The 2023 theme, Beyond the Conversation, focuses on the question, “what next?” highlighting what individuals and communities are doing to move past discussions and take action on matters of education, employment, accessibility, and more.

The month of March is an opportunity for us to recognize the difficulties that people with disabilities still face in fitting into the communities in which they live. At Hope, we work towards combating these challenges through community integration, employment, retirement opportunities, independent and supported living, as well as other services! We are committed to leading efforts to create greater acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities in the broader community. 

Before the 19th century, people with developmental disabilities were treated violently and lived in poor, unhygienic environments. Many were “passed on,” a practice of carting off people to be dropped in another town. Social reformers such as Dorothy Dix became leading advocates of the human rights of people with disabilities. Since it was socially unacceptable for women to speak in Congress, she asked another reformer, Samuel Gridley Howe, to present her argument for rehabilitating people with disabilities. This led to important changes that improved the lives of people with developmental disabilities.

March is also a time to celebrate the individuals we serve and those in the community by honoring their stories of diversity, impact, success, and advocacy. As we celebrate NDDAM, let us commit ourselves to promoting inclusion, acceptance, and respect for people with developmental disabilities. By working together, we can create a more inclusive society where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

The links below can serve as a starting point for discussions, projects, and other celebratory activities! Let’s take advantage of this month to raise awareness and promote understanding of developmental disabilities.

As part of the DDAM campaign, the beautiful art created by people with developmental disabilities is celebrated each year. The logo for this year’s campaign features artwork by Jamila Rahimi.