Real Influence

Rep. Tony Coelho (D - California) speaking about employment for people with disabilities in the Georgia Senate with (l to r) Hannah Hibben, Debbie Hibben, Elizabeth Appley and Eric Jacobson. During the early part of the planning process, the GCDD’s Council members identified the need to better market the agency, its name and its product as a top priority. The Council currently publishes several publications whose outcome is to provide people with the information necessary to make informed decisions about their lives and advocate for changes in the system. Making a Difference magazine Public Policy for the People newsletter and GCDD e-news are sent to over 3500 individuals through e-mail and posted to the website. The GCDD’s website continues to be a tool that people can use to find information. The GCDD staff consistently meets with members of the media to respond to questions and pitch stories. In addition, media roundtables are held when the Council’s quarterly meeting is held in sites other than Atlanta.

GCDD Vision

The GCDD’s priority for Real Influence is to increase awareness of the Council’s activities and promote initiatives supporting its goal and mission. Advocates throughout the state look to the GCDD as a leader in assisting individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to become better advocates and have the skills need to support initiatives throughout the State. In addition, the Council has worked in coalition to educate elected officials about the needs of persons with developmental disabilities and their families. Leadership provided during the General Assembly has resulted in increased funding and passage of legislation that continues to move the State in the right direction. With the upcoming reauthorization of the Developmental Disabilities Bill of Rights and Assistance Act, the need to develop the same kinds of relationship with federal legislators is very apparent. The GCDD priority is to support coalitions and advocates in promoting coherent public policies for integrated life in the community for people with developmental disabilities and the people who support them.

GCDD Supported Efforts


Advocacy Days at the Capitol - During the legisltive session, GCDD holds a series of advocacy days along with the annual Disability Day at the Capitol. Each advocacy day will have training, visits with legislators and networking with others in our community. Click here to view information on the 2018 Advocacy Days.

Public Awareness

"Voices Beyond the Mirror" Video Series -GCDD has created a series of public awareness video clips to mark the 40th Anniversary of the DD Bill of Rights Act of 1971 called “Voices Beyond the Mirror.” The video series provides a thoughtful look into the everyday realities of living with different types of disabilities. Click here to view the videos.

Public Policy

GCDD Listening Tour holds a series of community dialogues across the state to talk about issues including education, housing, jobs and regional transportation. It gives people with disabilities and their families a chance to voice their concerns and issues. It makes sure their needs are part of the larger community’s agenda. Click here to find out information on the GCDD Listening Tours.

Make Your Voices Heard: Dawn Alford, planning and public policy develepment specialist, participated with Rep. Pat Gardner in a webinar hosted by Parent 2 Parent. The video looks at how you can reach out to your local representatives to talk about the issues most important to you.

Public Information

Making a Difference Magazine is a quarterly magazine that provides information on pertinent topics related to disability. It includes stories of individuals and families in Georgia, perspectives on hot issues, resources, a calendar of upcoming events, straight talk from a person with disabilities and an ongoing update on the life of a young woman who has disabilities. (View the magazine.)
Public Policy for the People Newsletter is a biweekly publication that is produced during the legislative session to keep people informed about the budgets and bills that are being tracked. It does not editorialize. It just gives the facts. It is a useful tool to help citizens and elected officials keep up with the action at the Capitol. (View the newsletter)
GCDD e-news is a quarterly digital e-newsletter created reach out to self-advocates, community leaders, parents and other stakeholders to keep them informed about all of the things happening around Georgia for the disability community. (View the e-newsletter) Website - GCDD has an interactive website that allows interested parties to find up-to-date information at their convenience. It provides information about GCDD, its projects, disability issues and much more. (

Media Roundtables - As the GCDD moves around the state to host its quarterly Council meetings, one component is to hold a media roundtable in those locations. The Media Roundtables are usually held at the Chamber of Commerce. Newspaper, radio and television media representatives are invited to attend. Valerie Meadows Suber, Public Information Director, and Eric Jacobson, GCDD Executive Director, serve as hosts. There are usually a few family members and advocates who come to share what the local issues or concerns are. Materials about using People First Language are distributed. The media is encouraged to come and cover the Public Forum that is held the next night.

GCDD Public Policy Initiatives

GCDD’s legislative platform supports a number of important items.
Click each item below for more information on the current priorities.
* Indicates Items supported by GCDD but led by other entities
We are committed to reducing the waiting list in Georgia for NOW & COMP waivers. These waivers allow individuals with developmental disabilities who qualify for institutional level of care to receive the supports they need in the community.
We believe that all students, regardless of ability, should have access to post-secondary education programs in the state of Georgia. Inclusive Post-Secondary programs provide students with intellectual and developmental disabilities access to education not otherwise available.
We recognize that Medicaid home and community based services are the lifeline that allows people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to access their community. We know that any proposal to cut, cap, or reduce Medicaid funding to Georgia will put the lives of people with disabilities at risk.
GCDD is committed to expanding competitive, integrated employment opportunities for Georgians with disabilities and reducing the barriers to employment people with disabilities encounter.
We believe that all children deserve a permanent loving home. We are committed to removing barriers that result in children growing up in nursing facilities or private institutions.
Elder and Disabled abuse is an iceberg crime. Most of it is hidden from view, even though estimates are that 10% of Georgia’s elderly and disabled adults are victims of abuse and/or financial exploitation. To fight this rising crime, Georgia has toughened state laws and are training law enforcement on their use. Now it is time for the next step, to identify abusers before they can strike again. The Georgia Council on Aging is advocating for the creation of an Abuser Registry in Georgia to help prevent the hiring of caregivers with a known history of abusing vulnerable adults.
Finding the right services can be challenging for those unfamiliar with programs in their community. ADRC is a coordinated system of partnering organizations that are dedicated to providing accurate information about publicly and privately financed long-term supports and services. The increase in the older population and the end of two federal grants have created a crisis in funding for the ADRC. The Georgia Council on Aging is advocating for $4 million to strengthen the ADRC statewide network by adding capacity to meet the growing demand for crucial information.
The PAPE (Proof to A Preponderance of the Evidence) coalition is working to lower the standard to prove intellectual disability in capital punishment cases to “preponderance of the evidence,” which is the standard used in most other states.

The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities proudly supports the UNLOCK! Coalition’s Legislative Agenda. For more information, visit WWW.GCDD.ORG/UNLOCK/

Other Partners and Resources

View Our Real Influence Resources