March Is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month!

Did you know that March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (DDAM)? Beginning with International Wheelchair Day on March 1st, DDAM includes other recognition days, such as World Down syndrome Day on the 21st and Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day on the 25th. The theme of this year’s World Down syndrome Day is “With Us Not For Us,” which is something to keep in mind for the entirety of the month for all developmental disabilities! It’s a theme that puts inclusion at the forefront, reminding us that advocacy should take place not only on behalf of those with developmental disabilities but alongside them, putting the focus on individual goals, wants, and needs. Valley Village believes in an individualized, person-centric approach to care, where we get to know the goals and interests of our clients. This approach leads to great things, like A Day With George at the LAPD, Community at Large. Super Saturdays, car shows, visits to the Natural History Museum, and more!

While the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with disabilities from discrimination, there is still a long way to go in making the world truly accessible. This Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month at Valley Village, we wanted to highlight some of the improvements to accessibility that we see taking place around the world and link to some resources.

Adult Changing Tables At Airports

As of September 2022, 17 airports in the US have adult changing tables. You can see the complete list here!

Toileting can be stressful when traveling with a developmental disability. At Valley Village, when planning client events, one of the factors we consider when selecting locations is always access and accessibility to a bathroom. While not every terminal at every airport features a hoist lift and height-adjustable changing table, it’s a start that they’ve begun to be installed. One of the airports on the list is our very own Los Angeles International Airport, in Terminals 1 and 7! The gold star, however, goes to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in Terminal 2, with a hoist lift, a changing table, and two accessible showers.

Momentum Refresh Mobile Bathrooms

Did you know that some ADA-compliant restrooms are still not accessible to those who require assistance with toileting and other personal care? Momentum Refresh is working on this problem with their line of mobile-quality restrooms. They feature hoists, shower trolleys, toilets with grab bars, and heating and air conditioning with ventilation. They can be parked at public points of interest – such as libraries, music festivals, parks, and more – or rented by private businesses.

All Terrain Wheelchairs In Parks

Some state parks and historic sites are now featuring the use of free all-terrain wheelchairs. This is a huge accessibility victory for those with not only developmental disabilities but many people with other disabilities. Different wheelchairs are required for different needs and different kinds of terrain, and these all-terrain chairs would open up access to places that some of our clients would not be able to access, even those who use their own specialized wheelchairs! You can read more about the program and its applications in this Outside Magazine article. While these chairs are not currently available at parks in California, it offers a look at how we can think about labeling outdoor trails and experiences as “accessible.” It makes the world bigger and more accessible.