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Gov. Lee proclaims March Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Thursday, March 14, 2019 | 04:08pm
“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

Governor Bill Lee has issued a proclamation – one of the first of his administration – recognizing March as Developmental Disabilities Month.  The proclamation calls out the valuable contributions made by individuals with developmental disabilities who are a vital part of every Tennessee community.

“I believe in the potential of every person,” Lee said. “I have been so pleased to see the work happening across state government to ensure people with developmental disabilities are given every opportunity to fulfill that potential, and to lead lives of purpose as included members of their communities.”

The proclamation reads, in part, “Tennessee is therefore committed to encouraging and supporting communities to remove barriers that limit participation of individuals with disabilities in all areas of community life.”

Many individuals with developmental disabilities and their family members still face enormous barriers in accessing services and supports they need to be active and included members of their communities alongside their neighbors without disabilities.

 “Tennessee is a national leader in bringing state agencies and disability organizations together to improve services and supports for people with disabilities,” Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities Executive Director Wanda Willis said.

“We can be proud of the progress our state has made to improve opportunities for Tennesseans with disabilities. We want to use this opportunity to recommit ourselves to ensuring that people with disabilities can be as independent as possible and fully participate in their communities. We all benefit when that is the case.”

Read Governor Lee’s proclamation for March 2019 as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.


What are developmental disabilities?

The Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities estimates that more than 106,000 Tennesseans have developmental disabilities, based on national data on prevalence rates. A developmental disability, according to the Developmental Disabilities Act of 2000, is defined as a severe, chronic disability which originated at birth or during childhood, is expected to continue indefinitely, and substantially restricts the individual’s functioning in several major life activities. Examples include but are not limited to autism, traumatic brain injury, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and Down syndrome.

Who is the Council on Developmental Disabilities?

The Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities is a state agency established to improve disability policies and practice, educate policymakers and the public, and facilitate community collaboration to create lasting, positive change for Tennesseans with disabilities and their families. The Council is the only state agency specifically tasked with looking at how all the pieces of our disability system work together, identifying areas of need and bringing different parts of government and outside groups together to tackle challenges and improve state services.

For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter (@TNCouncilDD) or Facebook.

*Referrals to local community members with developmental disabilities and their family members can potentially be provided upon request for local news coverage. Contact Jolene Sharp, Chief Public Information Officer, at 61-253-8778 or

photo of three women in professional clothes and one man in a business suit posing together and holding a proclamation from the governor

Pictured above from left to right: Dawn Fry, Council representative of the Upper Cumberland District and Chair of the Council's Audit Committee; Joseph Lee, Director of External Affairs for the Governor's Office; Wanda Willis, Executive Director of the Council; and Tecia Puckett Pryor, Council Chair and representative of the Upper Cumberland District.