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DD Awareness: Ensuring Nebraskans' Voices are Valued and Heard

Nebraskans with and without developmental disabilities are encouraged to share their experiences living together in the community. (Darnok/Morguefile)
Nebraskans with and without developmental disabilities are encouraged to share their experiences living together in the community. (Darnok/Morguefile)
March 14, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. – During Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in March, Nebraskans impacted by a developmental disability are encouraged to speak up about the challenges they face. Developmental disabilities can restrict ability to function typically in day-to-day life activities, and at least 8,000 Nebraskans qualify for assistance services in the state.

Lori Harder, deputy director for community-based services with the Nebraska Division of Developmental Disabilities says these individuals have the same hopes and dreams as people without a disability, but still need the support of the community.

"Offering to help others when asked and being aware of what's happening around you and how people are being treated and being supported in an encouraging way is really crucial to making sure that folks feel valued and understood and heard," she explained.

This year's theme is "Side by Side," and the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities is raising awareness by having folks with and without disabilities share their experiences learning, working and living side by side.

Harder says much progress has been made over the past several decades to help individuals with developmental disabilities control their own path and live independently. And she notes the division has submitted a waiver to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to expand the array of services offered.

"It increases the number of services that are available to an individual that can be self-directed," she said. "We have lifted a regulation that allows family members to be able to provide services as long as they are not the legal representative for the individual."

Harder says the division's goal is to increase inclusion and help individuals with developmental disablities find the independence to achieve their employment, financial and social goals. Stories can be submitted at nacdd.org or posted on social media with the hashtag: #DDawareness17.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NE