Arkansas Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities

inclusion. integration. independence



View all Stories >

« Go Back

National Family Caregivers Month - November 2019

National Family Caregivers Month - November 2019

National Family Caregivers Month – celebrated each November -- is a time to recognize and honor  family caregivers across the country.

Celebrating Family Caregivers during NFC month enables all of us to:

  • Raise awareness of family caregiver issues
  • Celebrate the efforts of family caregivers
  • Educate family caregivers about self-identification
  • Increase support for family caregivers

Check out our Blog posts for more information and resources.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

"Every day, individuals with disabilities add significant value and talent to our workforce and economy," said the U.S. Secretary of Labor. "Individuals with disabilities offer employers diverse perspectives on how to tackle challenges and achieve success. Individuals with disabilities have the right talent, right now."

Observed annually in October, NDEAM celebrates America's workers with disabilities both past and present and emphasizes the importance of inclusive policies and practices to ensure that all Americans who want to work can work and have access to services and supports to enable them to do so. With continued advances in such supports, including accessible technology, it is easier than ever before for America's employers to hire people with disabilities.

The theme for the 2019 National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is "The Right Talent, Right Now". This theme emphasizes the essential role that people with disabilities play in America's economic success, especially in an era when historically low unemployment and global competition are creating a high demand for skilled talent.

During NDEAM, another focus is on mentoring - mentoring of youth and adults with disabilities who are job/career seekers about the process and the benefits of competitive integrated employment & mentoring by organizations actively practicing disability inclusion to orgs and businesses that are interested in implementing disability inclusion and inclusive hiring as a strategy.

Disability Mentoring Days offer employers an opportunity to:

1) Engage an untapped demographic of people with disabilities,

2) Help people with disabilities develop confidence about their own employability,

3) Recruit short-term and long-term interns/employees, and

4) Demonstrate positive leadership to other employers.

Primary objectives of the Disability Mentoring Days program:  

1) Help participating students and job seekers with disabilities learn more about potential employment opportunities and develop connections to the local business community;

2) Counteract unconscious biases, myths, and stereotypes held by employers to make them more comfortable with disability and more likely to hire employees with disabilities in the future.

Get Involved! Use these hashtags on social media:

Visit these sites to learn more:

GCDD Arkansas Blog - Are You Ready?

GCDD Arkansas Blog - Are You Ready?

09.18.2019  /  GCDD Staff  /  Emergency Preparedness

Are you prepared? 

Disasters are a year-round threat that can impact a family, community or entire region of Arkansas in a matter of minutes without warning. Thousands of Arkansans are annually displaced from their homes due to natural disasters like tornadoes, flooding, ice, fire and other forms of severe weather. But, the million-dollar question is, “Are you prepared?”

According to data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Weather Service, Arkansas is ranked No. 6 in the nation for having the most expensive property damage costs per household due to natural disasters equating to $206.2 million statewide annually or $181 per household per year.

Now, consider how this cost can hit your wallet, especially if you or a family member have a developmental disability. What costs will you be out if you have to replenish your medicine because you lost power and you were unable to refrigerate your medications? What if lightning strikes your home and your power supply for your assisted devices are blown? How will you move around your home and evacuate?

Disasters are never convenient and seem to impact us at the worst possible moment. However, there are ways to better prepare yourself and your family to weather the storm a little smoother.


  • Start a disaster fund for unexpected costs. After a disaster, you may find yourself paying out of pocket for medications, equipment and other needs that insurance may not cover the replacement of. Avoid the stress of these costs by putting money back monthly to cover costs that your provider may not assist with.
  • Create an emergency kit. Emergency kits can be as easy as loading up a backpack or small bin with toiletries, extra clothes, nonperishable food, water, a first aid kit and more. If you or a loved one has a developmental disability, consider extra items that assist them with living comfortably on a daily basis. Include extra medication and batteries for medical equipment. Make sure to have a copy of your PASSE ID card, insurance, medical information, doctor’s contact information and caregiver information to provide to emergency personnel if you need assistance after an evacuation.
  • Create a personal support network. Identify coworkers, neighbors and other community members that can assist you with safe evacuation and assist emergency personnel with responses about your individual needs.
  • Inform local emergency management about your specific needs. In emergencies, time can feel very short and the ability to inform local emergency management and personnel of your needs can pass before you’re cared for properly. Before an emergency strikes, register for Smart 911 to help your local emergency personnel know your location, needs and your environment so they can easily identify and assist you.
  • Always have a backup plan. More times than not, our biggest advocates can be impacted by other emergencies and may not be able to aid us in our time of need. Establish multiple individuals who can help you in case your primary contact cannot. If you cannot reach a place of evacuation, have a backup plan for relocation. If your power is out, equip your home with a backup power supply. Empower yourself to take care of yourself.

For more tips and a detailed checklist, go to the emergency preparedness Resources page on our website for free tools.



The Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities strives to provide Arkansans with updates on what is going on in our communities including upcoming events, hot topics, spotlights on self advocates, and information on new programs & resources. Check out our Blog here!

Emergency Preparedness for Arkansans with Functional and Access Needs

Emergency Preparedness for Arkansans with Functional and Access Needs

In Arkansas, nobody wants to think about experiencing a natural disaster like a tornado, flood, ice storm or house fire. What would you do if you found yourself in an emergency situation? It’s important to plan ahead. Especially if you have a disability, or are a caregiver for someone who does. We’ve put together a checklist that can help you prepare for the worst.

See our Emergency Preparedness Resource Page for more information. 


05/30/19 NEWS - For Immediate Release

Information Contact: Eric Munson, Executive Director

501-682-2912 •

Governor’s Council releases emergency preparedness checklist for individuals with developmental disabilities

Checklist to help Arkansans prepare for current severe weather and flooding threats

LITTLE ROCK (May 30, 2019) – The Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (the Council) has released an emergency preparedness checklist to assist individuals with a developmental disability (DD) as they prepare to be impacted by upcoming severe weather and the threat of potential flooding in their area this week.

“This emergency preparedness checklist has been of utmost importance to the Council as we have identified a gap of information and resources for Arkansans who have a developmental disability,” said Eric Munson, executive director of the Council. “It is our goal to empower these populations with appropriate and accessible information as much of our state is being impacted by record-setting flooding and continual severe weather threats.”

The emergency preparedness checklist provides information detailing what an individual with DD should consider regarding medical equipment, medications, vital records, emergency kits and more. It also includes education on how to develop a personal support network and information they need to know with in case an emergency strikes, such as how to operate medical equipment, responses to emergency personnel, and how to safely and properly assist an individual with DD in the event of an evacuation.

“Over the last several months, we have been working closely with FEMA, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, Arkansas Department of Human Services representatives and other entities to identify what emergency information and services are available to Arkansans with DD and how we can assist in informing this population,” said Munson.

The checklist is available for free download on The Council will also release an emergency preparedness video within the coming months.

About the Arkansas Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities:

The Council is a federally funded state agency that promotes integration, inclusion and independence for

Arkansans with developmental disabilities. Council members are self-advocates, relatives and/or caregivers of individuals with DD, state agency directors, and representation from nonprofit and private organizations. The Council works to encourage self-advocacy; to remove barriers to information, services and support; to

advocate for policy changes; to develop and support coalitions; and to educate community leaders. For more

information about the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and its mission, visit and follow the Council on Facebook and Twitter.


Inclusion, Integration & Independence for Arkansans with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Inclusion, Integration & Independence for Arkansans with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Promoting inclusion, integration and independence for Arkansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in all parts of community life is our mission!

The Council works to identify the most pressing needs of the IDD community in our state and address those needs by conducting outreach, fostering change and supporting capacity-building efforts. We conduct activities and support programs and projects that fit our 5 year state plan. The Arkansas GCDD has three goals stated in our plan:

Goal One:  People with developmental disabilities and their families will be active in advocacy activities that improve their lives, and the lives of others and the service system.

Goal Two:  People with developmental disabilities and their families will have increased access to community support and services.

Goal Three:  The Council will collaborate with state agencies and community programs to improve competitive, integrated employment of Arkansans with developmental disabilities.

From 2015 through 2018, the Arkansas Council was in a rebuilding phase. Steadily working to educate new council members and staff, to meet federal compliance requirements and to reconnect with the Arkansas IDD communtiy. By June of 2018, the GCDD had met many milestones and began receiving accolates on their hard work.

In the words of Donna A. Meltzer, CEO of the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, "NACDD/ITACC congratulates Eric Munson, Council members and staff on engaging in technical assistance, meeting all compliance requirements and renewing the public’s trust and confidence in the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities.  I firmly believe that The Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities is now ready and able to move forward with their purpose, to connect people with developmental disabilities to the resources and programs they need to be independent, be productive and be integrated and included in all parts of community life.”

For additional information, email or call 501-682-2897.


March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and it is time to spread the word and take action! Join us each year - in the month of March - to spread awareness, promote acceptance and celebrate the advancement of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilites.


Join us in highlighting the many ways in which people with and without disabilities come together to form stronger, more diverse communities. Together, we can do more to sustain the inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in all areas of community life. We are united in fostering an inclusive culture across Arkansas, because inclusion benefits everyone, enriching the lives of individuals with and without disabilities alike. During this month, we want people to share their stories, photos, and resources far and wide to expand the conversation on community inclusion.

History of DDAM  

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan made a public proclamation that the month of March should be recognized as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month to “increase public awareness of the needs and potential of Americans with developmental disabilities.” Though our mission remains largely the same, so much has changed since 1987. While we still aim to increase public awareness of developmental disabilities, our focus has shifted to highlighting the importance of community inclusion and disability acceptance.

What can you do?

  • Use the hashtag #DDawareness19
  • Share your stories
  • Join us at DDAM events throughout the month of March

Please contact the GCDD with info on events, stories, photos, and resources you want to share by emailing Together we can do more to make DDAM Arkansas 2019 a success!

Resources from the national campaign are available at and/or contact Council staff with questions or requests for Arkansas-specific DDAM resources.

Council Administrative Office Phone 501-682-2897

National DDAM Campaign Weekly Focus Areas:

March 1 –8: Education    
March 11 –15: Employment   
March 18 –22: Community Living
March 25 –29: General

DDAM Arkansas 2019 Schedule

03/04/2019                    Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month Arkansas Kickoff
                                     10am    DDAM19 Proclamation Event with Governor Hutchinson              Gov’s Conf Room/State Capitol
                                     Collaboration with DHS-DDS and other partners

03/14/2019                 10 am   Gather @ Capitol Rotunda for DDAM Day at the Capitol                Arkansas State Capitol

                                    10:30 am  Community of Champions Pi(e) Day at the Capitol                     Capitol Rotunda, 2nd Floor
                                    A Legislative Advocacy Event

                                     1:00 pm  GCDD Quarterly Business Meeting                                                   Committee Room 130

                                     2:30 pm  Arkansas People First Rally                                                               Capitol Steps

03/21/2019                   Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Employment Support Day
The Governor’s Office, in cooperation with the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and the Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDS), encourages all Arkansas businesses to take part by opening their businesses to individuals with developmental disabilities on Employment Support Day. Businesses can choose how they want to participate; a business could hold an “open house” that day to showcase certain jobs it offers, or a business could choose to allow an individual to shadow one of its employees performing job duties for an hour that day. If you want to participate, please contact Yvette Swift ( by March 11, 2019 and let her know if you plan to take part.


Self-Advocacy at the State Capitol Can Bring About Policy Change

Self-Advocacy at the State Capitol Can Bring About Policy Change

Policy change rarely happens overnight and is often linked to broader change in the political environment. Effective advocacy for policy change requires long-term as well as short-term thinking, an understanding of the points of resistance and the means to gain traction, the readiness to form alliances, and the flexibility to seize windows of opportunity.

Self-advocates can exercise their rights as citizens by working together to promote statewide changes in disability policy and practices affecting their lives and the lives of others with disabilities across the state.

Building Effective Relationships with Legislators

It is extremely helpful to have strong allies in the legislature. Get to know where legislators stand on issues and find those who are sympathetic to disability issues. Legislators interested in working on these issues often have a personal connection to someone with a disability. Building relationships with legislators opens the door to work more closely with them to get bills introduced, to help in drafting the language, in shaping the debate on the issues, and in getting legislation signed into law.

It is most beneficial to establish and maintain a consistent relationship with legislators in-between sessions, when your legislator has more time, so that when a bill becomes active you can easily contact your legislator for action.
Be an active advocate:

  • Attend candidate forums or town hall meetings that are held by legislators and candidates.
  • Raise disability issues and ask questions.
  • Respectfully hold elected officials accountable to promises made.

For more tips on effective legislative advocacy, check out our Effective State Legislative Advocacy document.

I Can Participate

I Can Participate

GCDD encourages integrated social activities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Actively pursuing hobbies or interests contributes to elevated self-esteem, enhanced positive behaviour, improved social competence, improved school or work attendance, and greater aspirations in life.  These experiences also serve to build relationships between individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and others, setting an expectation that persons with disabilities can exceed their perceived limitations and contribute to society.

What is Disability Inclusion?

Including people with disabilities in everyday activities and encouraging them to have roles like their peers who do not have a disability is disability inclusion. This involves more than simply encouraging people; it requires making sure that adequate accessibility policies and practices are in effect in a community or organization.

Inclusion should lead to increased participation in socially expected life roles and activities—such as being a student, worker, friend, community member, church member, patient, spouse, partner, parent, or a volunteer.

Socially expected activities may also include engaging in social activities, using public resources such as transportation and libraries, moving about within communities, receiving adequate health care, having relationships, and enjoying other day-to-day activities.

Why is Inclusion Important?

Chances are, disability does or will affect you – through personal diagnosis or that of a family member, friend or neighbor. Disability affects approximate 61 million, or nearly 1 in 4 (26%) people in the United States living in communities. Most of us will acquire a disability in our lifetime. So, advocate for inclusion in your community and be an ally to those who have intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families!

Check out our Links page.

Photo Credit: Julie Mayberry, I CAN! of Arkansas Founder

This page links to PDF files. Use this link to download Adobe Reader if needed.