July 2018
Council on Developmental Disabilities E-news
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Council News - 7/19/18

Share Input about our Communications

How are we doing in our efforts to share information and updates that increase your knowledge about disability services, policies and issues in TN?
Take our Council Communications Survey!
Informing and educating the TN disability community, policymakers and the public about disability topics is a core goal of the Council.

We do this through two weekly email newsletters, our magazine Breaking Ground, our videos, social media, website, presentations and through other communications efforts.

Please share your input with us - your responses help us understand what is working well and how we can improve!
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a logo that says "REV UP!" - register! educate! vote! use your power! make the disability vote count!"

Disability Voter Registration Week

Do you know community members with disabilities who aren't yet registered to vote? Are YOU registered?

Help us honor National Disability Voter Registration Week by connecting to these resources!  What's the Council been doing?
  • The Council participated in a statewide Twitter chat hosted by the TN Disability Coalition along with the TN Secretary of State, AAPD, Disability Rights TN, Empower TN and community members on Wednesday! You can check out the conversation by searching the following hashtags on Twitter and join the conversation to share why YOU believe voting is critical for people with disabilities! #REVUPTN  #GoVoteTN DisabilityVote18#
National Disability Voter Registration Week is a national campaign to register voters with disabilities every year through the "REV UP Campaign", which "aims to increase the political power of the disability community while also engaging candidates and the media on disability issues.

REV UP stands for Register! Educate! Vote! Use your Power!" The campaign is led by the AAPD (American Association of People with Disabilities).
logo that says "pledge to vote TN" and the "o" in vote is the symbol for disability, a figure in a wheelchair

Council Members Work Together to Solve Accessibility Barrier

A staple of the Council’s work is bringing together citizens and policymakers to solve problems together.

Over the past few months, Council member Martez Williams of Nashville worked directly with the TN Housing Development Agency (THDA) Council representative Bettie Teasley to address housing accessibility barriers – illustrating the Council’s impact by approaching solutions in this way. 

As Martez's newly developed rental property began to settle, it had become increasingly difficult for him to enter and exit his home in his wheelchair. The parking lot and surrounding property became exceedingly uneven and eventually made the "accessible entry" in effect inaccessible.

Because Martez is a self-advocate, a Council member and Partners in Policymaking graduate, he spoke up and approached the property owner, who wanted to help, but they struggled to find safe, long-term solutions. 
Bettie helped connect Martez to the proper contacts in THDA's Compliance Division of the Multifamily Development Division. THDA and property management staff worked together with Martez to ensure the accessibility concerns were addressed.  This assisted the property owner in developing an appropriate, long-term result for all of their tenants with disabilities.  

A big thanks to another Council member, Gina Summer, who heard Martez's story and shared it with us as a great example of the Council's impact!
photo of council member martez williams, who is an african american gentleman who uses a wheelchair and is dressed in a nice black shirt and hat and jeans, sits next to T.H.D.A.'s Bettie Teasley, who is a white woman with jeans and a sweater - they are sitting in hotel lobby

Council Presents to Govt. Professionals on Inclusive Public Meetings

This week, Council Partners in Policymaking Director Ned Andrew Solomon presented once again to the TN chapter of the Society for Government Meeting Professionals (TN-SGMP) about how they can most effectively and appropriately include individuals with various types of disabilities when planning public meetings and events for state and local government bodies.

Is there a group or organization in your community or that you belong to that would benefit from training on best practices for communication and interaction with people with disabilities? 
Request a Council presentation

News from Our Partners

a logo that says "ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act" 28; 1990-2018

Celebrate the ADA's Anniversary

July 26 is the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act! We hope you can attend one of these celebrations and reflect on the impact of this historic legislation that improved the lives of Americans with disabilities in countless ways!

ADA Celebration: Live, Work, & Play
July 26, 10 am - 1 pm CST

Deborah Cunningham Access Awards - *The Council is a proud sponsor of this event!*
August 3, 6-9 pm

JCIL Celebrates the ADA: Lunch and Fellowship
Friday, July 20 | 11:30 am - 1 pm CST

Celebrate the ADA with Empower TN
Thursday, July 26 | 2-4 pm CST
The Frist Art Museum, 919 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203
Send RSVPS and accommodation requests to by July 24. Free admission to galleries will be provided.

Mayor’s Council on Disability hosts ADA Celebration and Carnival
Thursday, July 26 | 11 am -1 pm EST
Miller Plaza Pavilion, 850 Market Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402

Video about Employment and Day Services Changes under DIDD Waivers

The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) presented on proposed changes to Employment and Day Services in the 1915c waivers (overseen by the DIDD) at the Disability Mega Conference this year. DIDD has recorded the session, and it is now online for those who did not attend the conference. You can watch it here.  Read more about those proposed changes in this TennesseeWorks blog from May.

Volunteer Advocacy Project - Family Training Program

The Fall 2018 Volunteer Advocacy Project (VAP) training through Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is currently accepting applications. Participants will learn about individualized education plans, assistive technology, discipline provisions, behavior intervention plans, non-adversarial advocacy techniques, legislative change, least restrictive environment, and extended school year services. 

For the upcoming VAP session, we (the Council) helped sponsor a participant to go through the training through our Scholarship Fund, which provides financial support to individuals with disabilities and family members to attend conferences, trainings and other disability-related learning opportunities.

Learn more about the Council's Scholarship Fund and apply online here.

VAP training will take place on Monday mornings from 9am-12pm CST (10am-1pm EST) beginning on August 20th (until November 5th) at a range of locations across the state. The training will run for 12 weeks (a total of 40 hours).

To apply for the VAP program, visit If you have any questions about the training or registration, contact Ellen Casale at .   

If you would like to request a special education advocate, call (615) 601-0825 and leave a voicemail with your name, phone number, and location (city/county).

August Enabling Technology Forums in Crossville, Franklin

The Arc Tennessee and the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities are hosting a series of Community Forums about "enabling technology", which refers to any type of technology used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. 

Community forums will be held on the following dates in these cities:
  • Aug. 2 - Crossville
  • Aug. 28 - Franklin
Find specific locations, times and other details on this flier.

Family members, self-advocates, provider agency staff and other interested individuals are invited to attend. There is no cost but registration is required. To register for one of the forums click here. Contact with questions.

Upcoming Events

Tennessee Events

Red highlighted events are sponsored by the Council and/or will include exhibits or presentations by Council staff. We'd love to come share information in your community - let us know about opportunities at

Check out the Council's Scholarship Fund for individuals and families for assistance with travel costs to disability-related trainings, conferences and events.






January 2019

May 2019

  • May 23-24, 2019 - TN Disability MegaConference - SAVE THE DATE

Outside TN

Find additional disability events by visiting
TN Disability Pathfinder's statewide calendar.  Find a list of all State public meetings at

If you would like to submit your organization's or community's events to be listed on Pathfinder's events calendar, email Megan Hart at

Other recent news from the Council

Need information about
disability resources in your community?

Contact TN Disability Pathfinder.

Helpline: 1-800-640-4636; 
Multilingual Services: 615-875-5083

The Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities is a state agency that leads initiatives statewide to improve policies and practices that affect everyday lives of Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Council on Developmental Disabilities Meeting Dates

  • Sept. 13 & 14, 2018 - Annual Planning Retreat
  • Nov. 2, 2018 - Council Meeting


  • March 1, 2019 – Council Meeting
  • May 3, 2019 – Council Meeting
  • September 13, 2019 – Council Meeting
  • November 14 & 15, 2019 – Annual Planning Retreat
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Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities · Davy Crockett Tower, 1st Floor, 500 James Robertson Parkway · Nashville, TN 37243 · USA

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