Superintendent’s Memo #264-12

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education

September 21, 2012

TO:  Division Superintendents

FROM:  Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT:  Disability History and Awareness Month

Public awareness, knowledge and understanding of disabilities promote full participation by students with disabilities into school and community activities.  Heightened awareness of individual contributions by people with disabilities advances inclusive communities.

Guided by these beliefs, a group of young people with disabilities who are alumni of the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities’ Youth Leadership Forum initiated a resolution that was passed by the 2009 General Assembly designating October as Disability History and Awareness Month (DHAM). The following vision statement was developed by this group for DHAM.

Disability history education and awareness will promote positive attitudes in schools creating a culture of mutual respect, understanding and equal opportunities for all.

Youth with disabilities, parents, teachers, and staff from the Virginia Department of Education, the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, and the Virginia Commonwealth University Partnership for People with Disabilities have supplemented the bank of DHAM resources first developed in 2009.  This year public service announcements have been added to the resources readily available to all school divisions.   The Partnership for People with Disabilities will send a DVD containing the public service announcements to each director of special education.  They are also available at www.youtube.com/user/DHAMPSAs?feature=watch.  Resources that can be used to promote and highlight Disability History and Awareness Month in Virginia during October may be found at the following Web sites: www.virginiaselfadvocacy.org (under the disability awareness tab) and in the online modules found at www.imdetermined.org (online modules).

I encourage you to visit these Web sites, have conversations with young people with disabilities, their families, the Special Education Advisory Committee, and Parent Resource Centers in your school division, and to plan activities that will promote the goals of this initiative.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Marianne Moore, VDOE transition specialist, at Marianne.Moore@doe.virginia.gov or (804) 225- 2700; Dana Yarbrough, community support specialist, at Virginia Commonwealth University at dvyarbrough@vcu.edu or (804) 828-0352; or Teri Barker-Morgan, program manager, at the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities at Teri.Barker@vbpd.virginia.gov or (804) 786-9381.

PIW/MM/dlj