Next month, hundreds of public transit passengers will be riding on Portland buses featuring ads raising awareness about intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The Department of County Human Services’ Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services Division will debut an advertising campaign in March, as part of a month-long effort to increase public awareness of the needs and potential of Americans with developmental disabilities.

The campaign, which will extend through March 31, is titled “Diversity. Inclusion. Equity” and will be featured on 22 TriMet buses.

The campaign features pictures of young people of diverse backgrounds successfully working, learning and living with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.

The campaign is tied to Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in Multnomah County, which extends through the month of March. The bus ads are intended to underscore the importance of inclusion and living life side by side. They also are aimed at driving more people to the County’s services.

Multnomah County is committed to helping people with intellectual or developmental disabilities experience personal growth and development, enjoy meaningful relationships, safely live and fully participate in communities and activities they choose.

A developmental disability is a condition such as cerebral palsy, autism or epilepsy that a person is born with or obtained before age 22 and which causes significant delays in everyday functioning. A person with an intellectual disability has significantly below average intellectual and adaptive skills as measured by standardized testing administered by a qualified psychologist.

Among other things, Multnomah County Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services Division:

  • Serves individuals living independently, in specialized housing or in the family home
  • Assesses individual needs and aids in efforts to achieve and maintain personal outcomes as outlined in the Individual Support Plan (ISP)
  • Coordinates with state, public and private agencies to provide services
  • Assists individuals in accessing employment, relief care and behavioral consultation
  • Guides and supports families in planning for the future

This is the second year the division has used a bus advertising campaign to increase its reach during the March awareness month. Last year’s campaign, “We Work. We Learn. We Love.” was featured on No. 4 TriMet buses.

The local campaign will coincide with National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, an opportunity to promote respect for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to educate people of differing abilities on the abilities of people with I/DD.

According to the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, the goal of the month of March is to create awareness about developmental disabilities, teach the importance of inclusion within every aspect of life and to share the stories of individuals to demonstrate that a successful life is possible.

The first public proclamation that March should be recognized as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month was made by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. This year’s national theme is “See Me for Me!” an exhortation to look beyond someone’s disability to see them as a person and not just a person with a disability.

Multnomah County, however, has chosen a different theme for its campaign.

“Individuals and families want to be a part of their community. They have meaningful contributions, skills and talents that they want to share,” said Dawn Alisa Sadler, a senior manager in the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Division of DCHS. “Diversity, inclusion and equity represents the goal of many individuals regardless of disability.”

In fiscal year 2016, Multnomah County’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services Division provided support to 5,755 adults, children and their families. The division linked 1,779 adults with resources in their neighborhoods and conducted 5,771 monitoring visits on 560 housing service sites to improve safety. The division conducts more than 1,150 intake and eligibility determinations per year.

If you or someone you know is interested in being referred for services, call  503.988.6258 to begin the application and evaluation process. Visit the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services Division’s website for more information about an upcoming resource fair.