“A community that excludes even ONE member is NO community at all.” – Dan Wilkins

March is Developmental Disability Awareness Month.

This national campaign is raising awareness about the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all areas of community life.

What are Developmental Disabilities?
Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. These conditions begin during the developmental period, may impact day-to-day functioning, and usually last throughout a person’s lifetime. (source: CDC).

In honor of Developmental Disability Awareness Month, MVCS is highlighting three easy ways we can all help create a more inclusive Island community.

1. Breakdown hidden barriers:

Sometimes the largest barriers are the ones we can’t see. In order to create change, we must first address our perception and mindset of people with disabilities.  Spoiler alert: People with disabilities are no different than anyone else.  Just because someone learns, speaks, looks, or is differently abled does not make them any less deserving of living full, active, and engaged lives.Not sure what we mean? Give this Ted Talk a watch. Stella Young, a comedian and journalist breaks down society’s habit of turning disabled people into inspirational figures.

“I am here to tell you that we have been lied to about disability.” – Stella Young

2. Use Person-Centered Language:

Words are incredibly impactful. Language has the power to inspire, spark change, and shape perception. On the other hand, word-choices can also divide, hurt, and disrespect people we love.  Shifting to person-centered language is an easy change that can go a long way.

What is Person-centered language?
As the title suggests – person centered language focuses on the person, not their disability.  Using this type of language describes what someone has not who a person is.


3. Get involved

Whether you are a business owner, parent, community member or self-advocate – there are several ways you can get involved on Martha’s Vineyard.

Business owners:

  1. Check out our Island Employment Program. We work with local business owners and individuals to develop seasonal and/or year-round employment opportunities for adults with disabilities in our community. The program supports both the employer and employee through every step of the employment process.
  2. Ask yourself – is your business accessible?
  • Do you have a ramp?
  • If your business is two-stories, is there elevator access?
  • Is your store/restaurant/etc. spacious enough to move through fluidly for those with mobility impairment?

Parents: Your voices matter! By setting examples and teaching children about inclusion from a young age, you can help eliminate future barriers. Below are several organizations that are making change on the Island.

Community Members:

  • Spread the Word! Spread the Word is a global engagement campaign to increase inclusion amongst people with and without and developmental disabilities through grassroots action. In schools, workplaces, and communities around the world, local leaders are taking a pledge to create socially inclusive places to learn, work, and live. Take the pledge and spread the word.
  • Rock your Socks on March 21st
    March 21st is World Downs Syndrome Day. MVCS is encouraging all community members to take part in the national campaign to #Rockyoursocks.

    1. Wear your most colorful, spunky, or mismatched socks on Thursday, March 21st and be sure to hashtag #lotsofsocks or #rockyoursocks and tag #WorldDownsSyndromeDay and @MVcommunityservices in your photos.


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