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SEE HOW: People in Tallahassee start initiatives to give voice to voiceless

Posted at 6:15 PM, Mar 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-14 18:15:00-04
  • People in Tallahassee are working in their own way to give a voice to those with disabilities.
  • The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council says over half a million people in Florida are living with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
  • Watch the video to hear from the FDDC, a neighbor, and how their initiatives go hand in hand.


"Educating yourselves on what it means to have a disability and break some of those biases and stigmas that still are very much immersed in our culture and society," that's the goal of FSU Special Education Professor, Dr. Janae Duclose.

I've spoken to her before. Thursday, I caught up with Duclose in my neighborhood. She said, "I have a younger sister with autism. She's been identified on the higher end of the spectrum."

Duclose has a sibling with a disability. She began her initiative by creating conversation cue cards. It's called C3 for Me. It's designed to help those living with disabilities function in their everyday life.

The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council says over half a million people in Florida are living with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Now, the FDDC is starting an initiative of their own: telling many stories waiting to be heard.

Executive Director of the FDDC, Valerie Breen, tells me how this whole thing came about, "we know that there are thousands of Floridians living every day with a developmental disability. Nobody gets the true story of what they live with every day, so what we wanted to do that council was give them their voice and have them tell their stories from all over the state."

It's called "Our Care Matters." It's an initiative that shares the experiences of Floridians living with intellectual and developmental disabilities and those who care for them.

These are the powerful videos.

"It is the most exciting thing to me to give the opportunities for families and individuals to share their voice. By us tapping into them and giving them opportunities to tell, they don't get to do that every day but if we can do that for them to make a difference. That's the most powerful thing this council can do."

The goal of the videos is to get the attention of commissioners, leaders, and lawmakers to make them aware and inspire change.

It's change that includes more opportunities of higher learning, competitive employment and more. I asked Duclose about whether her and FDDC's initiatives go hand in hand.

"The initiative and new project that the FDDC is putting forward is amazing. It captures the essence of what C3 for me officially is all about."

Breen agrees. "I am so excited when individuals come up with solutions based on their own experience. The fact that she understands the live experience with her sibling, the fact that she's coming up with a solution to help her sibling, it can only help hundreds of other individuals."

Helping hundreds of individuals with disabilities, Duclose says the project could also help them feel included.

"It is our job and our duty as members of society to ensure that they're able to contribute meaningfully just like anyone else."