The 2020 Everyday Lives Conference was held in Hershey on January 7-9 and invited support professionals, clinical professionals, individuals, and families to engage in three days of presentations focused on empowering individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to help them achieve an everyday life.
The sold-out conference was organized by DHS' Office of Developmental Programs as part of its commitment to a future that truly includes individuals with disabilities and offers them an everyday life as fully integrated members of our communities. The foundation of the Everyday Lives philosophy is summed up in two statements:
1. We value what is important to people with disabilities and their families, who are striving for an everyday life. An everyday life is about opportunities, relationships, rights, and responsibilities. It is about being a member of the community, having a valued role, making a contribution to society, and having one's rights as a citizen fully respected. It is a vision that we should all be working toward together.
2. People with disabilities have a right to an everyday life; a life that is no different than that of all other citizens. This continues to be the truest statement on which we can build our work. Everyday Lives will be a guide to ODP as it develops policy and designs programs. Providers of services will use the recommendations of Everyday Lives to support individuals and their families to achieve an everyday life. Everyday Lives will guide everyone toward the possibility of an everyday life.
"We are all here today because we know that people with intellectual disabilities should be treated with dignity and respect. They deserve compassionate, person-centered care that meets an individual's developmental, behavioral, and physical health needs to help them live an everyday life," said Secretary Miller. "Having an intellectual disability does not mean a person is incapable of making decisions, contributing to their community, or exploring lifelong learning opportunities. Community-based settings honor the inherent value of every person and empower individuals to choose the direction of their own lives."
This year's event featured sessions on topics like caring for individuals with complex needs, cultural competence, self-advocacy and sexuality. Sessions included Online Social Capital for Individuals with Disabilities, which dove into best practices for social media advocacy for and by the disability community.
ODP Deputy Secretary Kristin Ahrens addressed the conference and emphasized how inclusion helps everybody. "Accommodations don't just make things easier for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. The ramp into a building helps the mom with a stroller as much as it helps the man in a wheelchair. Subtitles help people who are deaf and hard of hearing, but they also help someone who maybe has an ear infection. We are working to make Pennsylvania a more inclusive place, and that benefits everybody."
You can read more about the conference from the live coverage blogs here.
The Everyday Lives conference is held every 18 months. For more information visit everydaylives.org.