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Council News Updates

Recent Updates from the TN Council on Developmental Disabilities

Share Your Input with the Council


We are in the process of developing our new five-year state plan.  This plan will be in effect for federal fiscal years October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2021. The plan will be submitted to our federal oversight agency, the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities during August 2016.

The State Plan is our strategic planning document for the next five years, and it will serve as a framework for our planning, implementing and evaluation activities.

We are asking Tennesseans with disabilities, family members and professionals to tell us what is working and what is not working in Tennessee regarding the quality of services and access to those services. 

Your feedback will help determine where to direct Council resources and advocacy over the next five years


Please take a few minutes to complete our brief survey!


When you start the survey, you will be asked to answer four demographic questions - the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities wants to make sure we are hearing from a diverse group of people. Then the survey asks about the availability of disability services in your community, the availability of general community resources that are accessible to people with disabilities and their families, whether there are under-served groups in your community, and what issues you feel are priorities for Tennesseans with disabilities and their families.


Please forward and distribute our survey to others in your personal or professional networks so they can provide their valuable input about Tennessee services and supports for people with disabilities!


If you have any questions about our survey or if you need the survey in other formats, feel free to contact Alicia Cone at or 615-253-1105.


If you would like to post the link directly to social media, the URL for our survey is


Thank you for helping the Council by sharing your input with us!

Announcing New Self-Advocacy Leadership Academy on Home- and Community-Based Services!


Last fall, the TN Council partnered with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network to host an Employment First Leadership Academy for self-advocates to learn about strategies to advocate for competitive integrated employment (REAL jobs for REAL pay) for individuals with disabilities. This year, we are holding our second free Leadership Academy, which will be held in Nashville on October 5-9, for self-advocates to receive training on another topic.


New federal rules have been developed that will affect the ways that day and residential services are provided. (These rules are commonly known as the "CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid] Home- and Community-Based Services Settings Rules", released January 2014.) It will be important to know how these new rules will affect community programs for people with disabilities in Tennessee.

The goal of this year’s Self-Advocacy Leadership Academy is to train self-advocates about Home- and Community-Based Waiver Services, and the importance of advocating for better and more inclusive community options. This training is for individuals with disabilities.

Training will include:

  • Understanding the new federal rules around day and residential services
    Understanding what it means to be a fully participating member of the community
    Understanding the importance of making choices
    Understanding your rights to privacy, dignity and respect
    Understanding your options for how and where you will spend your days and nights
    Understanding advocacy skills, such as leading a meeting and giving testimony

The Self-Advocacy Leadership Academy is a shared project of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities and the Commonwealth Council on Developmental Disabilities in Kentucky, with additional funding by the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation.

The Academy will cover all lodging and travel expenses for participants.

Click here to download the application. Application deadline is June 30, 2015.

For more information, please contact Ned Solomon at or 615.532.6556. Contact Ned if you need the application sent to you in another format.


Please pass this information along to any and all individuals with disabilities in Tennessee or Kentucky who might be interested in applying!

cover of Breaking Ground magazine picturing a young man with a disability in his work uniform standing by his boss

Check out our most recent issue of our magazine "Breaking Ground", which features a variety of articles by and about people with disabilities in Tennessee.


Articles include:

  • Wesley Works Because a Teenager Wanted a Job
  • Igniting the Dream of Education
  • Disability Employment Initiative
  • Architects for a Day
  • TRIAD'S Community Engagement Initiative
  • ... and more!

View or download the PDF.



Expect Employment: Report to the Governor from the Employment First Task Force


On September 16, 2014, Governor Haslam announced the completion of the Employment First Task Force report. The report provides an overview of progress made in expanding integrated and competitive employment for people with disabilities over the past year while outlining a set of goals to pursue over the next photo of advocates presenting employment report to Governor Haslam 


The task force members includerepresentatives from the Departments of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Human Services/Vocational Rehabilitation, Labor and Workforce Development, Education, Mental Health, TennCare, the Council on Developmental Disabilities, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Disability Law & Advocacy Center, service providers, family members and self advocates, and other disability advocacy groups.



Supporting Families of People with Disabilities: Community of Practice


The TN Council and the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) were selected in 2013 to participate along with 6 other states in a national ‘Community of Practice’ to think, learn and strategize about the next generation of services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

The goal of this 5 year grant and initiative is to build capacity within states to create policies, practices and systems to better assist and support families that include a member with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the lifespan.


The Council and DIDD distribute a monthly e-newsletter highlighting different core values and concepts of the "Supporting Families" framework each month - you can sign up for that e-newsletter here or email to be added to our mailing list. Supporting Families circle graphic


More tools, resources and information related to the Supporting Families project:

You can also stay updated by "liking" the Supporting Families Facebook page, visiting the project's homepage and the Tennessee state page at or contacting the Council at 615-532-5368 or for more information.