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July 2009 Maryland Department of Disabilities Press Release

 

 

Governor O'Malley Proclaims October

Disability History and Awareness Month

Governor Signs Executive Order During Maryland's

2009 Americans with Disabilities Act Celebration in Annapolis


ANNAPOLIS, MD (July 29, 2009) - Governor Martin O’Malley proclaimed October Disability History and Awareness Month in Maryland during the State’s annual Americans with Disabilities Act celebration on Sunday, July 26, 2009. Before a gathering of 200 individuals with disabilities, their families, service providers and elected officials, O’Malley signed an Executive Order that instructs State agencies to conduct activities that will lead to increased public awareness and acceptance of people with disabilities.

“Disability History and Awareness Month will serve as an outstanding tool in creating greater awareness, understanding and support for individuals with disabilities,” said Governor O’Malley. “By emphasizing disabilities awareness activities in our school systems, we are working toward a future where every person with a disability is respected and valued as a contributing member of our community.”

The Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDOD), which works collaboratively with all state agencies to unify and improve services and resources for individuals with disabilities, has been given the lead to increase public awareness of the history of disabilities and the disability rights movement. MDOD will provide information and assistance to other State agencies, local governments, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and institutions of higher education and assist them with the coordination of activities and events throughout the State.

“Through this Executive Order, Governor O’Malley has created a remarkable opportunity for the three departments, MDOD, MSDE and MHEC, to join together in promoting educational programs and activities that will foster an understanding of the long struggle that people with disabilities have had in achieving their civil rights and the chance to pursue their goals,” said Maryland Secretary of Disabilities Catherine Raggio.

The Maryland State Department of Education will assist and encourage local boards of education to provide instruction in the history of disabilities, people with disabilities, and the disability rights movement during October of each year. Suggested activities could include: supplementing existing lesson plans; holding school assemblies; hosting disability-focused film festivals; inviting individuals with disabilities to speak at school programs; and recognizing at the local level students and citizens who have life experience with disabilities.

"College is a time when young people are expanding their worlds, meeting people with diverse backgrounds and experiences," said Maryland Secretary of Higher Education James E. Lyons, Sr. "It is an excellent opportunity for these young people to gain greater insight and knowledge about people with disabilities and the history of the disability rights movement."

Maryland’s institutions of higher education, including the University System of Maryland, Morgan State University, Saint Mary’s College of Maryland and 16 public community colleges, have also been asked to participate in activities that provide education, awareness and understanding of disability history, people with disabilities, and the disability rights movement.

During the past three years, the O'Malley/Brown Administration has added $46 million in state funds and leveraged an additional matching $46 million in federal funds for the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) budget, most notably so that our youth leaving the school systems can participate in either Supported Employment or a day program. $20.5 million of the DDA budget was allocated for the closure of Rosewood as Maryland moves forward in compliance with the Olmstead decision.

Other Administration accomplishments include: increased funding for the Maryland Infants and Toddlers Program by $4.6 million in FY 2009, bringing the total funding to $10.4 million and over $2 million to the Division of Rehabilitation Services, reducing its waiting list by over 54 percent in just 6 months. Last year, Governor O'Malley signed the Fitness and Athletics Equity Act for Students with Disabilities into law, an action that requires all Maryland public schools to allow students with disabilities to try out for sports teams. Believing there is no such thing as a Spare Marylander, the state has also worked to increase employment opportunities for Marylanders with disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was enacted to end disability-based discrimination, and to promote inclusion, full participation, economic self–sufficiency, and equality of opportunity for all people with disabilities. According to the 2000 U.S. Census data, Maryland had approximately 845,000 people with disabilities out of a total population of 5.3 million. In 2006, Maryland served approximately 107,000 students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a federal law that outlines how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to children with disabilities.

 


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