July 2009 Maryland
Department of Disabilities Press
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
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
"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.