Americans with Disabilities Act Turns 25

By Emily A. Donaldson, CELA This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), landmark legislation likened in scope to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. With its passage in July 1990, discrimination based on disabilities was banned in employment, public accommodations, telecommunications and government programs. Sponsored by recently retired Senator [...]


Disability Policy Seminar 2015 – Get Involved and Get the Facts!

By Trudy R. Jacobson, Senior Executive Officer, Development & Marketing, The Arc Hosted by: The Arc, United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), and Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) Promotional Support Provided by: Sibling Leadership Network [...]


Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month: Opportunities and Misconceptions

By Margaret Graham, Esq. March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Owing to parent advocacy and landmark legislation, communities have become significantly more responsive to the needs of people such as my daughter, Emily, who has cerebral palsy and autism. But challenges remain, and families continue to band together throughout the U.S. to help one another, [...]


Recommended Books for the Special Needs Community

As lawyers in elder and disability practices, Special Needs Alliance members have many experiences that feed our empathy and understanding, but not all of us have parents with dementia or a child with a disability. One thing we have learned, though, over many years of practice, is that if you have seen one child or [...]


New Congress: Opportunities for New Champions

By Annie Acosta, Director of Fiscal and Family Support Policy, The Arc The midterm elections are over and many wonder how they will impact the disability community in the 114th Congress. And with all of the 24/7 news coverage, it can be hard to know what really matters for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities [...]


The Arc’s Center for Future Planning Launches Website!

By Robin L. Shaffert, Senior Executive Officer, and Liz Mahar, Program Manager, Individual and Family Support, The Arc The Center for Future Planning is pleased to announce the launch of its website The website is the Center's first step in supporting and encouraging families and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to plan [...]


PBATS and The Arc Join Forces to Promote Inclusion

The Special Needs Alliance and The Arc collaborate on issues of mutual interest. The Arc promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes. The Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) and The Arc have announced a [...]


Call to Action! Ask Federal Legislators to Co-Sponsor Bills Benefiting People with Disabilities

The Special Needs Alliance and other prominent advocacy groups have long supported two pieces of legislation that would greatly benefit individuals with disabilities. Now we're asking you to help sign up additional co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act (H.R. 2123/S.1672) This bipartisan legislation was introduced in [...]


The Arc Launches New Center for Criminal Justice and Disability

By Leigh Ann Davis, M.S.S.W., M.P.A., Program Manager, Justice Initiatives The Arc, the nation's leading organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), has been awarded a two-year grant for $400,000 by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to develop a National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability, specifically focused [...]


The Arc Reacts to Startling New Bureau of Justice Statistics on Crimes against People with Cognitive and Other Disabilities

The Special Needs Alliance and The Arc collaborate on issues of mutual interest. The Arc promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) recently released a report on Crime Against [...]


Young Artist with Autism Finds Critical Acclaim

His art has been exhibited throughout the U.S., in Kiev, Galapagos, Curacao and the Cayman Islands. He can compose music on a computer, without the benefit of sound. He's won medals for ballroom dancing. Yet a skills evaluation, conducted, when Seth Chwast - who has profound autism - was 18, indicated that he could look [...]


Reflections on Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

By Reginald H. Turnbull, CELA March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, a time to reflect on the truly dramatic advances made by the special needs community, as well as the challenges remaining before us. Families that have advocated on behalf of loved ones with disabilities are remarkable. They have consistently eschewed labels, fighting to eradicate [...]


Mental Illness Awareness Month

A Largely Unaddressed Epidemic By Laurie Hanson, Esq. October is Mental Illness Awareness Month, almost an oxymoron. Do you realize that more people in the U.S. have mental illness than any other disability? That a quarter of all adults experience mental illness each year? And that over 50 percent of them will go without the [...]


March Is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Advances and Setbacks By Robert B. Fleming, CELA In 1987 President Ronald Reagan proclaimed March “Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.” The deinstitutionalization movement of the seventies and early eighties had laid the foundation for significant social change, and the presidential proclamation called upon Americans to provide the "encouragement and opportunities" necessary for people with developmental disabilities [...]


Self-Advocacy’s Growing Momentum

By Martha C. Brown, CELA Today, the expectations of individuals with special needs are radically different from those of previous generations. They plan to participate in community life to the fullest extent possible, based upon their individual capabilities. And this attitude is mirrored by many family members. A growing self-advocacy movement stresses the intention of [...]


Not Accepting “No”: Tips on Advocating Change

By James A. Caffry, Esq., Waterbury, Vermont Government transparency - or the lack of it - is much in the news, and it's a concept to bear in mind as you advocate on behalf of a loved one with special needs. All of us have been frustrated at one time or another by bureaucracies that [...]


Keeping Seniors with Developmental Disabilities in the Community

By Pamela Merkle, Executive Director, Association on Aging with Developmental Disabilities Thanks to medical advances, people with developmental disabilities are living longer and that longevity is bringing some very difficult and unexpected challenges. Their parents, who have often been their primary caregivers, are passing away and, unlike other seniors, they generally have no adult children [...]


Graduating from Special Ed, Anticipating College

Brian L., 19, recently graduated from high school, having been in special education programs since kindergarten. He has a number of learning differences, including autism spectrum disorder. In August, he enters freshman year at Millersville University, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Here, he talks about his public school experience and his eagerness to start college. Q: [...]


The Katie Beckett Difference

By Robert B. Fleming, CELA Katie Beckett, who died recently at the age of 34, directly changed the lives of more than half a million children with disabilities. She inspired millions of children, their parents and the entire disability community. Due to encephalitis, she spent her earliest years in a hospital. In 1981, though doctors [...]