Governor Haslam Proclaims March “Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month”

Thursday, March 19, 2015 | 10:54am

“Disability is a natural part of the human experience that does not diminish the right of individuals with developmental disabilities to live independently, to exert control and choice over their own lives, and to fully participate in and contribute to their communities through full integration and inclusion …” 

                      - Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000

This month, Governor Bill Haslam signed a proclamation designating March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Gov. Haslam and the Tennessee disability community wish to recognize the valuable contributions made by individuals with developmental disabilities who live, work, play, vote, volunteer, worship and build relationships in our local communities.

“Tennesseans with and without disabilities live and work side by side in communities across the state, and every person  has valuable strengths, infinite capacity to learn and the potential to make important contributions to their communities,” Haslam wrote in the proclamation.

The proclamation states that “families of people with developmental disabilities deserve our admiration and recognition for their caring commitment and ongoing support that are essential to an independent and productive life”.  Many individuals with developmental disabilities and their family members still face enormous challenges in accessing needed services and supports to allow them to live successful lives in their communities alongside people without disabilities.

We hope this month that Tennesseans will use Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month to learn how they can become involved in working alongside individuals with developmental disabilities to transform their communities into welcoming and supportive places for people of ALL abilities. Communities are stronger and better for everyone when all citizens are not only accepted but also respected for the contributions they make and their strengths, abilities and gifts.

“Tennessee is a state that values all of our citizens, including Tennesseans who have a developmental disability,” said Wanda Willis, executive director of the TN Council on Developmental Disabilities. “Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month is a good time for communities across the state to learn about and celebrate the successes of our friends and neighbors with developmental disabilities who have enriched the communities where they live.”

A developmental disability is a condition that is significant and ongoing, begins before age 22, and substantially limits functioning in daily activities of living. Examples include but are not limited to autism, traumatic brain injury, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, spina bifida and Down syndrome. 

For more information about developmental disabilities, the needs of citizens with developmental disabilities and their families in Tennessee, or the work of the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities, contact Executive Director Wanda Willis at 615-253-5369, or visit  

Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities