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Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

March 29, 2024

Becoming a Better Advocate During Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan officially declared March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Every person, regardless of their abilities, deserves to be treated with respect, acceptance, and offered opportunities for growth.

The SWAAAE family includes our members, our customers, and our colleagues and we recognize every person of all abilities. Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month serves as a poignant reaffirmation of these ideals, highlighting the worth, rights, and aspirations of individuals with developmental disabilities.

The following are ways you can become a better advocate for people with disabilities:

1) Learn the appropriate terminology – Terms such as “handicapped,” “able-bodied,” “physically challenged,” and “differently abled” that have once been used to describe people with disabilities are no longer encouraged for use. “People with disabilities” or “person with a disability” are the preferred terms that should be used instead since they stress the humanity of the individual and avoid objectification.

2) Be aware of ableism – Ableism is the discrimination of and social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior. . .ableism is rooted in the assumption that disabled people require ‘fixing’ and defines people by their disability. To avoid ableism you can take the following steps: 1. believe people when they disclose a disability, 2. don’t accuse people of ‘faking’ their disability, 3. Listen to people when they request an accommodation, 4. Don’t assume that you know what someone needs, 5. Never touch mobility equipment without consent, 6. Keep invasive questions to yourself, and 7. Don’t speak on behalf of someone with a disability unless they explicitly ask you to.

3) Understand that some disabilities are invisible – It’s important to not make assumptions about others' abilities because you may be judging someone with an invisible disability. An invisible disability, also called a hidden disability, is a physical, mental, or neurological condition that is not visible from the outside, yet can limit or challenge a person’s movements, senses, or activities. To voluntarily share that you have a hidden disability and encourage inclusivity, acceptance and understanding, the London Gatwick Airport launched the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower – by simply wearing the Sunflower you’re letting everyone know that you might need extra help, understanding, or just more time. Learn more about the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower at: What is the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower? (

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