DDS Celebrates Disability Pride
A Message from Commissioner Jane F. Ryder

Dear DDS Community,

July marks a time for plenty of celebrations. While I enjoy cookouts and 4th of July, there’s no competition – my favorite celebration is Disability Pride Month.

33 years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed on July 26, 1990, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. In honor of the ADA, every July we recognize all people with disabilities by promoting visibility, honoring their rights, and applauding their achievements.

To celebrate Disability Pride, I hope you will join me in celebrating the successes of people with disabilities here in Massachusetts. Recently, I have been moved by the perseverance of INspire Café’s employees. When Bitty and Beau’s Coffee Shop in Melrose closed, individuals with disabilities lost their jobs.

Rather than letting that stop them, they started Inspire Café, a pop-up slushie stand. Now the proceeds of that stand are going towards a new shop to employ individuals with disabilities – and their work is also showing their community the importance of inclusion. Watch their story on WCVB.

Stories like these demonstrate how far we have come since the ADA was passed.

Reflecting on the way our DDS services have also evolved in that time – from our supported employment and supportive technology that increase independence, our focus on meaningful community integration in service plans, and centering the people receiving services in all conversations and ensuring they have a seat at the table where decisions are made – it makes me excited to see how we will grow in the years to come.

Commissioner Jane F. Ryder
DDS Spotlight: Rising Star, Lavender Darcangelo
Congratulations to Lavender Darcangelo on her incredible performance on America's Got Talent!

Lavender's story is an inspiration, and a great reminder of the importance of representation and inclusion. DDS proudly cheers Lavender on as she makes her way to Hollywood -- and Governor Healey does, too!

Disability Pride Month
While we come to the close of Disability Pride Month, we hope that this July has served as a reminder to celebrate people with disabilities by promoting visibility, honoring their rights, and applauding their achievements all year long.

Watch these PBS videos to learn more about the history of the disability rights movement and its activists, and about the diversity of disability experiences.
Advocate with Us!
Are you interested in creating positive change for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities? 

The SAC and CABs are groups of self-advocates, family members, and community members who assist DDS through advocacy, advisement, and community education.

If you're interested in learning more, email
Upcoming Webinars, Virtual Groups & Events
Open to individuals, families, and caregivers

Always Exploring, Never Lost: DDS/MABVI Support Group
July 29, 10-11:30 AM ET
29 Denby Road, Allston MA, 02134
This support group for individuals with vision loss meets in-person monthly as part of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI)’s Orientation and Mobility Community Activity Series with DDS. Focus topics may include self advocacy, guide dogs, accessible technology, and more. Accessible parking and accessible bathrooms are available.

Virtual Rainbow Group: MASS
August 8, 5:30-7:30 PM
Join Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong (MASS) monthly virtual Rainbow Group. This group is for self-advocates who are members of both the intellectual and developmental disability community as well as the LGBTQ+ community. Open to everyone, the Rainbow Group is a place to meet and talk to other self-advocates, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and learn about LGBTQ+ issues.

DDS Self-Directed Services Overview
August 9, 10-11:30 AM
Join DDS to learn more about DDS Self-Directed Services, and how participants and their families can design individualized services through the Participant Directed Program or Agency with Choice. Multiple sessions in English and Spanish will be offered in the coming months.

“Focus” on Vision Impairment & Blindness Conference: DDS & MCB
October 3, 8 AM-3:30 PM
Four Points by Sheraton, Norwood MA
This collaborative event provides a multi-tracked Educational Program reaching out to the needs of individuals, clinicians, family members, support staff at day and residential programs, advocates and all concerned with the vision and vision loss needs of individuals with intellectual/developmental disability. 

To request an ADA accommodation for any DDS event, complete the Reasonable Accommodation Online Request Form. Please allow at least two weeks (14 days) advance notice. Last minute requests will be accepted but may encounter delays and may not be processed. For more information about the accommodation process, contact DDS ADA Coordinator, Larry Haile (
DDS Staff Achievements: Suffolk Fellow & Leadership Graduates
This July, DDS has many staff achievements to celebrate!

Congratulations to Beckey Gow, DDS Assistant Area Director of the Worcester Area Office, on being awarded the prestigious Commonwealth Suffolk Fellowship. Beckey will attend the Master in Public Administration (MPA) program at the Suffolk University Sawyer School of Business.

On being awarded the fellowship, Beckey says, "I am excited for the opportunity to expand my knowledge base, grow as an individual, and expand my professional resources all so I can better support the individuals we support."
DDS also congratulates the graduates of this year’s DDS Southeast Regional Leadership Series!

The graduating class included 23 members from provider agencies and DDS staff who completed leadership-related courses, including “Partnering with Families,” “Partnering with the People We Support,” and “Creating Valued Roles.” The course culminated with a capstone, where each participant presented on their personal journey through the series.

DDS can fulfill its mission only through the dedicated work of its provider partners and employees. Congratulations to this newly graduated cohort and thank you for your dedication in striving towards excellence in services for the individuals we support!
Pictured from top: Commissioner Ryder and Suffolk Fellow Beckey Gow; DDS Southeast Regional Leadership Series graduates and staff
MassHealth Update

Do you or your dependents use MassHealth insurance? MassHealth families need to renew coverage this year and must act now to stay covered.

Be sure to update your contact information and report household changes to MassHealth.

Find more information on MassHealth’s Redetermination website
DDS Public Data & Analytics

We are excited to share the launch of the DDS Public Data & Analytics website. The site shares demographic data on individuals served, services received, employment outcomes, and DDS National Core Indicators (NCI) data.

This information illustrates the collective impact of our work and gives individuals and families the tools they need to make informed decisions about the services and programs they may utilize.

Explore the DDS Public Data & Analytics DashboardDDS Employment Outcomes, and DDS National Core Indicators (NCI) data. This data reflects a highlighted selection of some of the many DDS programs and services, and we will continue to integrate data and analytics from more services in the future.
DDS Ombudsperson: A Resource for You

The DDS Ombudsperson is an advocate. They can help resolve conflicts, offer guidance, and make sure individuals and families are receiving their eligible DDS services.

If you would like to connect with the Ombudsperson over a concern or question, email or call (617) 821-1677.

Find more information on the DDS Ombudsperson website
Welcoming Legislators: DDS North Central CAB Dinner
Legislators, self advocates, staff and CAB members smile together
Recently, the DDS North Central Citizens Advisory Board (CAB) hosted a dinner with legislators in Leominster, MA. The dinner offered community members and legislators an opportunity to learn more about advocating for people with disabilities and joining DDS. 

Thank you to the legislators who joined: Representative Kimberly Ferguson, Representative Jonathan Zlotnik, Representative Natalie Higgins, Representative Meghan Kilcoyne, Senator John Cronin, and Senator Robyn Kennedy.

And a special thank you to guest speaker Nicole Ramos -- an individual with autism, a wife and mother, a college student, and a recipient of DDS resources.

Congratulations to the DDS North Central CAB on a successful event! If you're interested in joining your local DDS Citizen Advisory Board and making a change for people with disabilities, learn more.
Pictured: Legislators, self-advocates, staff and DDS North Central CAB members