March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, followed by Autism Acceptance Month in April. The Arc US has made available a set of images and associated copy for chapters across the country to use on their social media platforms. The tag line for the campaign is “New Decade, Old Injustices.” The point of it being that as we enter the 2020s, there are still many serious issues relating to developmental disabilities that remain uncorrected.

For March, the copy is as follows:

  • Week 1: Filicide (the killing of one’s son or daughter); Header, “600+ People With Disabilities Murdered by Caregivers”; Copy, “In the past five years, over 600 people with disabilities have been murdered by their parents, relatives, or caregivers.In 2020, people with disabilities are still thought of as less than—less than people without disabilities. Nearly 70 years into The Arc’s movement, less than is unacceptable. The murder has to stop.”
  • Week 2: Institutions; Header, “37 States Still Have Institutions”; Copy, “In 2020, 37 states still have institutions that warehouse people with disabilities—out of the community and often against their will. The Arc’s movement started when parents wanted more for their children with disabilities. Let’s finish the fight.”
  • Week 3: Waiting Lists; Header, “8—10 Years: Average Time on Waiting List for Disability Services”; Copy, “How long would you wait for the help you need to live your life? People with disabilities shouldn’t have to wait years to receive the help they need to live in the community—things like help with bathing, dressing, getting out in the community, and much more. We can do better.”
  • Week 4: Donation Ask; Header, “Join the Fight for Disability Rights”; Copy, “In 2020, we need you to help us end the injustice for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, once and for all. Can you show that you are in the fight for disability rights with us, and donate $20.20 today?”!/donation/checkout?c_src=DDAA20

When I first read these, I thought they were overly somber, almost dark. and indeed, the graphics themselves have a very dark tone to them. I was concerned about presenting such somber messaging when it seems like we generally attempt to lift up the achievements that have been made and the accomplishments of individuals. After all, over the past several decades we have made great strides. In accessibility. In education. In inclusion. and in employment.

But as the campaign shows, we still have a long way to go. and the first step to solving problems is the recognition that they exist. If all we do is talk about progress and highlight the achievements, the problems will remain unseen and never get addressed. That’s why I think The Arc has constructed this particular campaign. It’s great to be aware of the good. It’s important to also be aware of the bad. The struggle continues.