We’ve all faced that moment, when someone told us “we can’t.” For those individuals with developmental disabilities, the message can be particularly troubling. They face it a lot.
Turning that “you can’t” message to a “you can” message is the aim of the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council (DD Council), which is advocating for the inclusion of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) through a multi-year campaign.
The council is working toward its mission to create fully inclusive communities, educational environments and employment opportunities for those facing developmental disabilities.
“Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have the right to be full and active members in their community, and to be valued as equals to all residents,”says Vendella Collins, executive director of the DD Council. “This new Inclusion campaign shows that every person has a role in creating a fully inclusive society – it starts with opening your mind and inviting individuals to participate.”
The initial campaign focuses on building inclusive communities through employment opportunities.
People with disabilities are a large, untapped pool of loyal, hardworking and highly motivated workers, according to Collins, who notes as of 2017, only 19 percent of people with I/DD are employed in the state.
Changing perceptions is a challenge and therefore, efforts must be intentional, according to Collins.
“Including people with disabilities in the community requires intentional practices and policies that identify and remove physical, communication and attitudinal barriers,” she says.
To be more inclusive, communities should be welcoming and engage all members of the community, according to the Council.
“It is important to see people as a friend, a neighbor, and as a contributing member to the community,” says Collins. “An inclusive community treats all of its members equitably and recognizes their value.”
Editor’s Note: The DD Council is housed within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Learn more by visiting Michigan.gov/DDCouncil. To view the campaign, visit the MDHHS YouTube page.