New Data Reveals People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Still in the Shadows

E-Newsletter Issue Date: Thursday, June 16, 2011

This week, The Arc released the results of its Families and Individual Needs for Disability Support (FINDS) survey showing that opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to lead productive, quality lives have plateaued and not nearly enough progress has been made to create more opportunities. As a result, The Arc has outlined a broad call-to-action for people with I/DD and those who care about them. The Arc is calling for more grassroots activism, launching an effort to organize 1 million people to make their needs and concerns an issue in the 2012 elections. In addition to some specific legislative and awareness goals, we’re calling on everyone to join the movement, share a story, or, if you are an employer of someone with I/DD, tell us about your experience.

The FINDS survey results, which are compiled in a report named Still in the Shadows with Their Future Uncertain, show that this recession has hurt everyone, but the impact has been particularly harmful to the lives of the 7 million people living with I/DD. The survey revealed that 62 percent of caregivers reported a decrease in services for their family member with a disability. One-third of parents and caregivers (potentially 1 million families) reported that they are on waiting lists for government funded services, with the average wait more than five years.

The survey also found that the promise of integrated, community-based employment is not being met. In fact, 85 percent of families reported that their adult family members with I/DD are not employed at all. Opportunities for inclusive education, a pre-requisite for employment, are also not being met. Too few students are completing high school – in fact, 52 percent of families reported that their family member with I/DD left school without receiving a high school diploma. Meanwhile, budget proposals in Congress threaten to dismantle Medicaid, making it even harder for people with I/DD and their families to achieve.

As part of a nationwide awareness campaign, The Arc launched a series of new public service announcements this week with one of the spots featuring Lauren Potter from the hit TV show Glee. As a successful actress with Down syndrome who is achieving her dreams, Lauren represents the spirit of The Arc’s work embodied in its new tagline Achieve with us. Look for these new public service announcements on your local television stations in the coming months! And be sure to read the article in this newsletter announcing The Arc’s Achieve with us social media contest.