The Arc of the United States News & Updates


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Information about The Arc of the United States, including mission and program information, is available HERE.

The Arc Celebrates the ADA’s 25th Anniversary

Blaze a Trail to Future Planning

Posted on May 27, 2016 by The Arc

In the spirit of this year’s Older Americans Month theme, “Blaze a Trail,” The Arc recognizes the many parents of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who fought for decades to raise their children at home, to realize their rights to free and appropriate public education, and for recognition as valued contributors to the community. The Arc is committed to supporting these aging caregivers and their adult sons and daughters with I/DD to develop a roadmap for the future.

Future planning is important for all families, but it can be especially challenging for the almost 1 million families in which adults with I/DD are living with aging caregivers.  In two-thirds of these families, there is no plan in place for the future. Many of these families have no connection to the disability community or the disability service system. It is our role to support them to overcome the fear of planning and provide them the information and resources they need to create future plans.

To support these trailblazing families, The Arc of the United States launched the Center for Future Planning™ in 2014. Discussing these major life transitions and putting a plan in place may actually alleviate some of the stress experienced by aging caregivers, their adult sons and daughters, and other family members and supporters.

The Center’s website provides reliable information and assistance to individuals with I/DD, their family members and friends, staff at chapters of The Arc, and other disability professionals on:

  • person-centered planning

  • supported decision-making and guardianship

  • housing options

  • financial planning (including public benefits, special needs trusts, and ABLE accounts)

  • employment and daily activities

  • making social connections

  • providing information if an urgent need arises


During Older Americans Month, here are some ways you can access more help:

  • Read more information about future planning and see how other families have planned.

  • View The Arc’s webinar on supports and services for aging caregivers.

  • Visit The Arc’s new Build Your Plan™ online tool that enables families to create accounts and begin to build their plans within the Center for Future Planning™. Check out the demonstration webinar to learn more about how to navigate Build Your Plan and encourage families to begin creating plans.

  • Encourage families you know to start the process and to get support in their communities. Chapters of The Arc around the country can provide guidance and information about local resources.  Families can also identify professionals in their communities to help them create and implement future plans through The Arc’sProfessional Services Directory.

  • In addition, Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) can help with accessing services and support available to seniors. AAAs offer a variety of home and community-based services such as respite, meals on wheels, and transportation. Visit for more information about additional benefits available to seniors.


Supporting aging caregivers and adults with I/DD is an ongoing process and is possible with the help of other family members, friends, the community and professionals. It’s important to work together to develop a plan that will ease the stress of future transitions. You can contact The Arc’s national office at (202) 202-617-3268 for more help.

Make A Difference


Sign up today for the Disability Advocacy Network!  Join the Disability Advocacy Network as we build a larger, stronger movement of people with disabilities, parents, siblings, and allies to advocate for the disability movement..

Click HERE to register at The Arc of The United States.


The Arc of the United States Celebrates 25 Years of the ADA


 July 16, 2015 by The Arc


On July 26th we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA affirms the rights of citizens with disabilities by prohibiting discrimination in employment, public services, public accommodations and services operated by private entities, and telecommunications. It is a wide-ranging law intended to make our society accessible to people with disabilities.


The Arc played a leadership role in the passage of the ADA. Our volunteer leadership, state chapters, local chapters, and public policy staff worked closely with others in the disability community to make the ADA a reality. The bottom line is that the passage of this transformative legislation would not have been possible without the hard work of Congressional leaders and disability advocates, like you! As we celebrate this monumental achievement and the 25 years of implementation of this law, we can’t help but reflect on what the ADA really means to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their loves ones.

To commemorate this special anniversary, we asked members of The Arc’s National Staff to share with us what the ADA means to them. You can read a few of the responses below.


We invite you to visit our social media channels, on Facebook (The Arc US) and Twitter (@TheArcUS) and share with us what the ADA means to you. We want you to be part of the larger conversation so be sure to use the hashtag #ADA25.


“I have been a participant in so many meaningful opportunities.  I attended two very highly respected universities; I have travelled extensively, from Kauai to Istanbul to Moscow.  And I interned and worked for a prestigious corporation on Wall Street.  Each of these experiences has been the product of public policy, for I am an individual with a physical disability. It was through the National Business and Disability Council (NBDC) that I secured a summer internship in New York City.  In light of these life events, is it any surprise that I am totally convinced of the power of ADA to transform lives?” – Taylor Woodard, Paul Marchand Intern, The Arc


“I have the ADA to thank for bringing me to The Arc, and introducing me to what has become a life-long commitment to advocating with and for people with disabilities. About 20 years ago, I was hired to direct an ADA project that created materials for criminal justice professionals about accommodations people with intellectual and developmental disabilities need in order to receive fair treatment in the system. This seed money from the Department of Justice eventually led to the creation of a national center in 2013 (see It’s frightening to think how the lives of people with disabilities would be different today without the passage of the ADA. It’s equally exciting to dream about what the next 25 years may hold!” – Leigh Ann Davis, Program Manager, The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability


“I’ve had the honor of supporting individuals with disabilities and their families since 1978. Back then professionals were taught that we knew best. The idea that a professional would ask a parent, let alone a person with a disability, what they wanted out of life was unheard of. Once the ADA was enacted many professionals were slow to support the paradigm shift from institutionalization to specialized services to full community membership. I’m grateful that my world opened. I count myself as a supporter, listener, and friend.  I’m a follower and not a leader. I join in celebrating the fact that more and more people with intellectual disabilities are living full lives in their communities. However, we still have a very long way to go since so many remain ignored and unfilled. So as we celebrate, let’s not forget the 1980 battle cry from Senator Ted Kennedy, ‘For all those whose cares have been our concerns, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.’” – Karen Wolf-Branigin, Senior Executive Officer, National Initiatives, The Arc


“Having two siblings with I/DD and working as a disability rights attorney, I see the profound value of the ADA in both my personal and professional life. While there is still so much more work that needs to be done to make our systems work better for people with disabilities, much of the progress we have achieved and continue to work towards every day at The Arc and throughout the disability advocacy community would simply not be possible without the vital protections and enforcement mechanisms the ADA provides. I am eager to see what we will achieve over the next 25 years as we continue to use the ADA as a fundamental tool to protect and enforce the civil rights of individuals with disabilities!”- Shira T. Wakschlag, Staff Attorney, The Arc


“The ADA certainly transforms lives, as I can attest to. It has helped me to reach my goals and enabled me to be a trailblazer and set the way for individuals with autism and other developmental or intellectual disabilities. I have had numerous opportunities, one being able to participate in my DD council’s Partners in Policy Making program where I learned how to be a self-advocate and stand up for myself and others. It has also helped me to be employed at one of the most wonderful places to work, The Arc of the U.S.” – Amy Goodman, Director Autism Now, The Arc


Southbury Training School Too Costly To Keep


To read the editorial in the Hartford Courant, click HERE


“Autism Cares” Signed into Law


As Congress winds down its work for the year, it recently passed and President Obama signed into law the “Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support (CARES) Act of 2014.” This law reauthorizes the Combating Autism Act of 2011 for five years and makes a number of improvements to it. Since its original enactment in 2006, the law has significantly advanced the science and practice in the disability field by increasing the number, scope, pace, and coordination of research, surveillance, public awareness, and professional training efforts. Among its many notable achievements are an increase in the proportion of infants screened for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), an increase in the proportion of children diagnosed by the age of three, and continuing improvements to decrease the time between diagnosis and intervention. The Arc thanks advocates across the country for helping to secure approval of this important law!


The U.S. Supreme Court Reaffirms Commitment to Ensure Justice For Individuals With Intellectual Disabilities


Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Freddie Lee Hall in Hall v. Florida, a death penalty case concerning the definition of intellectual disability (ID) that Florida uses in deciding whether an individual with that disability is protected by the Court’s decision in Atkins v. Virginia.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Hall. The justices stated that Florida cannot rely solely on an IQ score to determine whether an inmate has ID. Justice Anthony Kennedy stated that IQ tests have a margin of error and those inmates whose scores fall within the margin must be allowed to present other evidence.

Additionally, Justice Kennedy modified the 2002 Atkins decision by adopting the term “intellectually disabled” and abandoning “mentally retarded,” which was previously used by the court in its opinions.

To read The Arc’s full statement, visit our BLOG



The Arc’s “New and Improved” National Convention

PBATS and The Arc Join Forces to Promote Inclusion

An Inspirational Champion!


Thank you to the hundreds of past attendees of The Arc’s National Convention who shared their thoughts on how we could improve our annual event. We learned from all of the survey responses what you really want from this important event, and this year you can expect a fresh and exciting program in New Orleans from September 30 - October 2.

We are thrilled to announce Ron Suskind, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author will be one of our keynote speakers. His latest work, Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism, chronicles his family’s twenty year struggle with their youngest son’s autism. Ron will be attending convention with his son Owen and his wife Cornelia. Plus, Fred Maahs, Director of National Partnerships for Comcast Corporation and Vice President of Comcast Foundation, will speak about his personal experience as a person with a disability, his commitment to community service, and the benefits of corporate/nonprofit partnerships.

Visit our newly redesigned Convention website and register today! Click HERE.


PBATS and The Arc Join Forces to Promote Inclusion


Last month, The Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) and The Arc announced at Yankee Stadium a partnership to promote the inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in sporting activities nationwide. The Arc will participate in PBATS’ PLAY (Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth) Campaign events at stadiums across the country throughout this season.

The first event took place at Camden Yards with trainers and players from the Baltimore Orioles and participants from The Arc of Baltimore and The Arc of Central Chesapeake. During the event, kids received advice from the Baltimore Orioles nutritionist and worked with their professional trainers before meeting outfielder David Lough.

This is the first of at least 12 events chapters of The Arc will participate in. Keep an eye on The Arc’s Facebook page and blog for updates about this exciting new program.


An Inspirational Champion!


We continue to dedicate this year to the champions that work tirelessly enabling The Arc to continue its important mission.

Kimberly Resh is one of those champions, a mother, an activist, and an advocate. Not only is Kim a champion for The Arc, but she has made it her life’s mission to spread the word about inclusion for people with I/DD in communities first in New Jersey, and now throughout Pennsylvania. And, she seeks to empower others nationwide to do so as well.

Read Kim’s extraordinary story on our website.


Do you know someone who is a champion for individuals with I/DD?


Show them you appreciate their efforts by making a gift in honor of them today! Your gift will help us continue our work no matter how small or large the donation.

Your gift is acknowledged with a card sent to the recipient or their family letting them know that a donation has been made in their honor.

Thank you for your continued support. You are a true champion of The Arc.


How Mercer Can Help Members of The Arc


The Arc is committed to support the full inclusion and participation of persons with I/DD. This includes the right to the financial protection of life insurance.

Members of The Arc and caregivers can secure $5,000 or $10,000 in coverage through Mercer Consumer, a nationally regarded insurance broker and administrator. The coverage is underwritten by The Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company.

There are no health questions or physical exams required. Acceptance is guaranteed as long as you are under age 60; a U.S. resident who is not hospitalized or living in an institution; and not physically disabled due to illness or injury.

You can download a brochure and enrollment form online. Or call 1-800-503-9230.

AR Ins. Lic. #303439
CA Ins. Lic. #0G39709
In CA d/b/a Mercer Health & Benefits Insurance Services LLC


HealthMeet® Promoting Heathy Lives!


Being healthy is a challenge for everyone. We all may need help learning how to maintain a healthy weight, recovering from surgery, seeing a dentist, or using a walker or cane to help us keep our balance as we get older. People with ID often face additional barriers when attempting to access appropriate health services. A comprehensive analysis of HealthMeet’s first year of assessments revealed some of the challenges people with ID face including:

  • Access to coordinated care;

  • Discrimination from health care professionals who sometimes provide inadequate or inappropriate interventions and treatments or deny appropriate care for people with I/DD;

  • Affordability due to a lack of public or private insurance;

  • Communication with health care professionals and personal decision making.


To learn more check out The Arc’s website, a full report on HealthMeet® will be available in the near future.


Sprout Film Festivals Promoting Inclusion


The Arc has long partnered with Sprout, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing innovative programming to people with I/DD, to create a national film festival. Participating chapters are scheduling events across the country featuring films for, about and by people with I/DD.

In 2014, chapters with The Arc have hosted film festivals in Maryland, Massachusetts, Idaho, New York, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. The film festival in Pennsylvania was unique because students from local schools joined with The Arc of Lehigh and Northampton Counties to host an inclusive and inspirational event.

"The mission of the festival is to use film as a tool for advocacy to change the perception of mainstream kids toward their disabled peers," says Bruce Seidel, Director of Development for The Arc of Lehigh and Northampton Counties in an interview with The Morning Call.

To learn more about The Arc & Sprout National Film Festival visit our website.


New Resource on the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services Final Rule Available


The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, the National Disability Rights Network, and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities announced a new resource for advocates to follow implementation of the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) final rule. The rule set forth new requirements for several Medicaid authorities under which states may provide home and community-based long term services and supports. The website provides both state and federal resources to help track what states are doing to comply with the rule and educates advocates about the important provisions.



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