ADEC’s voice is growing louder.

Although it has always been part of our mission to advocate for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, ADEC will be taking on a more active role in making sure the voices of the people we serve are heard on the local, state and national level.

Indiana lawmakers have a big say in what kinds of services Hoosiers with disabilities receive. On Thursday, we introduced some of those lawmakers to some of the recipients of those services.

A delegation of legislators and officials from The Arc of Indiana visited ADEC to learn about the services we provide to more than 1,200 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities each year and to see some of those services in action.

Sen. Blake Doriot, Rep. Linda Rogers and Rep. Curt Nisly visited alongside Kim Dodson, executive director of The Arc of Indiana, and Hannah Carlock, The Arc’s director of public policy.

The visitors sampled drinks from ADEC’s Gaining Grounds Coffee House and browsed pieces of Art by ADEC. The group then toured ADEC’s Day Service at Bristol, where they met many of the people we serve and learned about the vocational activities offered there, including woodworking, sewing, baking and painting.

Donna Belusar, ADEC’s CEO and president, expressed her gratitude that the legislators and officials from The Arc were willing to spend several hours learning about ADEC and interacting with the people we serve.

“The voices of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are often overshadowed by others, so it is refreshing to know that our senators and representatives are willing to listen,” Belusar said. “We want to show them what the legislative work they do makes possible for individuals with disabilities.”

Belusar is helping to position ADEC as a strong voice as lawmakers review the system of disability services in Indiana.

With the goal of creating a comprehensive plan for the future of services for Hoosiers with disabilities, the Indiana General Assembly established a task force to gather input and explore what services should be added or discontinued. The Task Force for Assessment of Services and Supports for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (or Task Force 1102, for short), was led by Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and toured the state collecting feedback from individuals with disabilities, their family members and providers.

The Task Force recently released a report of its findings with a list of 34 recommendations, which various state agencies and advocates are currently working to implement.

Belusar serves on the employment workgroup of the Task Force, a position that allows her to help the state develop an array of employment options for individuals with disabilities. She was also recently appointed to serve on the governmental affairs committee for The Arc of Indiana.

Reps. Doug Miller and Christy Stutzman plan to visit and tour ADEC in early November.