Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries
Serving Greater Cincinnati

It’s National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month: How to Show Your Support

March is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, a time for us to celebrate the valuable contributions, talents, and gifts of individuals with developmental disabilities in all aspects of community life. It’s also an opportunity to raise awareness of the barriers to inclusion many individuals with developmental disabilities still face.

At Ohio Valley Goodwill, we celebrate the personal and vocational success of individuals with disabilities every day! We want to highlight several ways to show your support during National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

Educate yourself

Everyone deserves respect, and having a disability should never be a barrier to being included as a valued and contributing member of a community. Unfortunately, individuals with disabilites still face harmful stereotypes and discrimination that prevent them from being fully included as part of their communities. Here are some actions you can take to educate yourself and be more inclusive in your everyday life:

  • See the person, not just their disability. We all want to be seen and appreciated by others, but it is common for individuals with disabilities to feel overlooked and excluded. Putting the person first is simple; it means treating others how you want to be treated. For example, speak to the person directly, not to their companion. If an individual uses a wheelchair, use a chair to be on their same eye level if you are having a long conversation. If you’re unsure of how you should interact with a person with a disability, just ask them!
  • Use respectful, person-first language. Language is powerful. It can make people feel included and accepted, but it can also make people feel belittled and excluded. It’s important to recognize and avoid using harmful and outdated language when referring to people with disabilities. It’s best to use person-first language, which means putting the person before their disability. For example, say ” person with a disability,” or ” individuals with disabilities,” as opposed to phrases that identify people based solely on their disability, such as ” the disabled.”

Please note: Some individuals prefer the use of ” Identity First” language which involves stating a descriptor of a person 1st (Autistic person) with the idea that the characteristic is an integral part of person’s identity and community membership and should be emphasized.
**In all cases, treating individuals with respect and dignity and honoring of personal preference at all times, should be the guiding principles for appropriate language use.

  • Learn about the disability community. One of the best things you can do as an ally to the disability community is to continue educating yourself. Learn about ableism and how to detect it. Follow disability advocates on social media and amplify their voices by sharing their work. Stay up to date on local and national policies impacting individuals with disabilities. There are many big and small ways to show your support!

Support Community Employment

Although many people with developmental disabilities want to work, only about one-third are employed, and people with disabilities are still twice as likely to be unemployed than those without a disability. At Ohio Valley Goodwill, we’re on a mission to change that! In collaboration with local partner agencies, we serve hundreds of individuals with disabilities by providing job skills training, career coaching, job placement, and other employment services. We believe that a job is about more than a paycheck; it promotes independence, dignity, confidence, and true community belonging. We invite you to read the inspirational Success Stories of the individuals we’re proud to serve and support. 

Be an advocate all year long!

Every day, we can work together to build communities where everyone belongs and thrives! Help spread the word, raise awareness, and be an advocate within your personal social circle of family and friends.

You can also join Ohio Valley Goodwill’s mission to create opportunities for individuals with disabilities to develop important skills, overcome barriers and achieve employment success. Every time you donate gently-used items to Goodwill or shop in one of our retail stores, you’re supporting life-changing vocational programs and services for individuals with disabilities living right here in Greater Cincinnati. That’s a very good thing!

Want to find out more about Ohio Valley Goodwill’s mission, programs and services? Learn more here.

#DDawareness2022, #DDAM2022 or #WorldsImagined.