(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser, the Department of Disability Services (DDS), self-advocates, and disability rights leaders celebrated Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month during a ceremony held at the DDS headquarters. During the event, the Mayor announced new investments for individuals living with disabilities that were included in her fiscal year 2024 budget proposal to expand access to recreation, personal needs and child care.
“Making sure that Washington, DC is a city where more people choose to live – to stay here and to move here – that means we are always focused on building a city that welcomes and works for people of all abilities, all ages, and all backgrounds. It means ensuring people can live happy, purposeful lives,” said Mayor Bowser. “With these new investments, we’re making important programs even more inclusive and more accessible for residents with disabilities. Today, in celebrating Development Disabilities Awareness Month, we are celebrating our residents and our commitment to always building a more inclusive DC.”
The proposed FY 24 budget reaffirms the District’s commitment to providing critical services that will eliminate barriers and foster greater community inclusion for people with disabilities, including:
- $400,000 to create 360 additional summer camp slots across sports and aquatics programs for children & youth with disabilities.
- $744,600 to increase the personal needs allowance for individuals with disabilities. This funding will provide approximately 1,200 individuals with increased personal needs allowance funding, increasing from $100 to $150 per month. The personal needs allowance funds may be used to pay for personal needs of the individual not covered by Medicaid or Medicare, such as clothing, cosmetics, hobbies, etc. This increase is for individuals who are in community-based placements through the Developmental Disabilities Administration at DDS.
- $6.8M in the Special Education Enhancement Fund to establish new dedicated childcare slots, out-of-school time slots, and a referral system for infants and toddlers with disabilities.
Earlier this month, Mayor Bowser issued a proclamation celebrating the attributes and contributions of people with developmental disabilities.
The theme of today’s celebration was, “Through My Eyes,” to challenge every person to imagine their lives through the lens of a person with disabilities. The celebration included an exhibit from artists from ArtEnables, and musical performances by individuals that are supported by Bridgeway Community Services and Project ReDirect. After Mayor Bowser delivered remarks, there was a screening from an excerpt from the video documentary, “From Lives Apart to Lives Together.” The film demonstrates how far the District and the people it supports have come from the days of institutions to community inclusion. The event concluded with the Disability Champions Awards Ceremony.
“The Mayor’s commitment to equity and the full inclusion of people with disabilities, allows us to continue to provide high quality services that assist people with disabilities in living and working as independently as possible,” said DDS Director Andrew Reese.
The US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) recently selected DDS for the National Expansion of Employment Opportunities Network (NEON) initiative to increase competitive employment opportunities for people with disabilities by providing intensive policy consulting, capacity building support and ongoing mentoring.