DDAM 2022

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness month

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (DDAM) is observed across the US every March. This month is dedicated to raising awareness about inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in their communities. It also focuses on the barriers and challenges that still exist for people with disabilities.

We’ve put together a few different ways you can participate in DDAM, but first, a little history …

History of DDAM

March was officially designated National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in 1987. This came after decades of work and advocacy to raise awareness about developmental disabilities.

President Ronald Regan signed the presidential proclamation, writing, “I urge all Americans to join me in according our fellow citizens with such disabilities both encouragement and the opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.”

It marked an important step forward for the disability community, but the efforts to raise awareness have not stopped. In the 34 years since, more key milestones have been achieved to help build a more inclusive society.

This includes but is definitely not limited to:

  • 1990: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed
  • 1996: Federal Telecommunications Act passed to make all telecommunication devices accessible
  • 1998: Assistive Technology Act signed into law
  • 1999: Olmstead v LC and EW ruling reinforces the civil rights of people with disabilities
  • 2004: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was reauthorized
  • 2008: ADA amendments make it easier for individuals to establish they have a disability
  • 2014: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act was signed into law.

March is a time to celebrate the many goals that have been reached. It’s also a time to reflect on what still needs to be achieved. Here are a few ways that you can advocate with people with disabilities to continue building more inclusive communities. 

Help celebrate DDAM

Wear orange

Orange is the official color of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. It represents energy and positivity. Don your orange duds throughout the month. It’s one of the easiest ways to show your support.

Learn more

If you don't know much about developmental disabilities, that’s ok. Now is the perfect time to learn! According to the CDC, approximately one in six children aged 3 to 17 have one or more developmental disabilities. Some common developmental disabilities include cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, down syndrome, ADHD and more.

Take the time to learn more about developmental disabilities. Learn more about different organizations in your area that support people with developmental disabilities. And learn more about how you can support those organizations and people with disabilities in your area.

Become an advocate or self-advocate

Be an advocate or self-advocate. This means being a positive voice that speaks up for the human rights of people with developmental disabilities. Support and raise awareness for policies that help those with developmental disabilities succeed. Overall, be a force for change.

Get involved in local events

Since DDAM is a national observance, many communities across the US put on events that help support their local disability community. Do a little research to find out what’s happening in your neck of the woods. Spread the word, attend events and encourage others to join you.

Host a local event

If you can’t find any local events, put one on yourself! It can be as small as starting a book club that focuses on books by and about people with disabilities. It can be as big as a community event that gathers advocates, organizations, people with disabilities and the wider community to celebrate awareness and inclusion.

Share your photos, videos and stories

No matter how you decide to get involved in DDAM, make sure you share it. From word of mouth to social media, let everyone know that March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. This includes photos, videos and stories that focus on all the great things happening in your local community.

The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities creates a DDAM social campaign every year. This campaign encourages people to share their DDAM moments and all the great work being done to celebrate and improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities.

Find out more and how you can participate.