Deanne Gagne: Building Bridges Across Communities with Advocacy Business

April 2, 2019

Deanne Gagne is dedicated to Building Bridges and we’re happy that Johnston Sun Rise recognized her efforts by sharing this story. RIDDC’s “Self-Employment Project: The Spirit of Individual Enterprise” funded by the Governor’s Workforce Board’s “Real Pathways RI” initiatives really helped Deanne and others.

Deanne Gagne RIDDC Johnston Sunrise

Deanne Gagne is no stranger to overcoming the odds.

Gagne was born with cerebral palsy, and doctors did not give her a high chance of survival. That was prior to starting work as a coordinator for Advocates in Action, the state’s self-advocate organization, in 1997. It was also before she went to Rhode Island College and obtained her bachelor’s degree in social work in 2006.

“Considering I wasn’t supposed to live and I wasn’t supposed to walk, talk and use my hands, any of that, I just do my daily life, I’m used to it,” Gagne said during a phone interview on Monday morning. “But it’s kind of remarkable when you think about it.”

Her prognosis came many years before Gagne began Bridge Building Services, a business focused on fostering connections between and offering support to communities such as those with developmental disabilities, in 2010.

Now Gagne, 47, is sharing her story as part of National Developmental Disabilities Month, and her inspiration begins with helping others.

“I’ve always loved to help people,” Gagne said. “Most of the time I’m talking to direct support, they really want to know the best practices and how to best support people and … about what self-advocacy is and speaking up and helping people figure out what is best and what is going to work for them.”

To read the rest of the article from the Johnston Sunrise, click here.



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March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

March 15, 2019

Each March, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), partners with Association for University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) and National Disabilities Rights Network (NDRN) to create a social media campaign that highlights the many ways in which people with and without disabilities come together to form strong, diverse communities.

RIDDC March Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
The campaign seeks to raise awareness about the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all areas of community life, as well as awareness to the barriers that people with disabilities still sometimes face in connecting to the communities in which they live. DD Awareness Month covers three main areas: education, employment and community living. Throughout the month of March NACDD will use these themes to guide our weekly content.

The RIDDC wants to use this campaign to showcase the excellent work that is being done to celebrate and improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities in RI. If you have resources or materials that you think should be included and shared with this campaign, please send them to us! We will feature the submissions on our Facebook Page and they may be shared to audiences all across the country. Examples of resources include, but are in no way limited to, videos, news articles, photos, personal stories, promising practices, etc. Share what events your community is doing to celebrate DD Awareness Month and show us how you are making a difference during March! With your help, we can make the DD Awareness Month campaign a success.

A special element of this year’s campaign is highlighting the artwork created by people with disabilities. With the artist’s permission, NACDD will highlight their art in the DD Awareness Month campaign imagery.

 If you have a resource you would like to be shared contact Sue Babin at 401-737-1238 or submit your resource electronically to

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Business Development (Self-Employment) February Classes Available for People with Disabilities and Community Agencies

February 13, 2019

steps to self employmentDo you know a person with a disability who wants to be his/her own boss or who has an interesting  hobby or great idea for a business (self-employment)? Do you know someone who started a business but needs support to be more profitable/successful? If so, Business Development Classes may be helpful for people to understand the various steps involved and provide information, resources and guidance for building their business.

an image of signs marking different paths to self-employmentLearning about various aspects of running a business may be the informational support people need! Developing successful businesses for people with disabilities includes accessing supports outside of the traditional human services field and using skills/connections to continually build the business— business planning, research and market analysis, production, marketing, finance, networking, etc.

For some individuals, obtaining a job working for an employer has been a really positive experience. For others, a creative approach in exploring self-employment may be more beneficial.

The RI Developmental Disabilities Council (RIDDC), in partnership with the Center for Women and Enterprise (CWE), have organized a FREE Business Development Series of 6 Classes for people with disabilities and other individuals. The first Class is Wednesday, February 20, 2019 and others scheduled every two weeks. We want to assist individuals interested in personal and financial independence to learn necessary skills and access community resources so they become profitable RI business owners!

The Classes will provide people with practical day-to-day advice, resources and ongoing TA that they can understand, assess and use in their own businesses. Staff and Business Consultants from CWE know how to work with people to write good business plans, conduct research on business ideas, identify business milestones, and set targets/goals that they can achieve in whatever industry they chose to launch.

The Series will include Six Business Development Classes: 1. Business 101 Basics… Is Entrepreneurship (Self-Employment) Right for You?;  2. Steps to Start a Small Business… Do What You Know and Love! 3. Developing an Effective “Elevator Speech” to Explain Your Business, Your Service/Product(s) and Your Goals;  4. Writing a Good Business Plan;  5. Marketing Your Business Idea; and 6. Understanding Finances, Bookkeeping, and Resources for Business Growth Opportunities

Class 1 & 2: “Business 101 Basics… Is Entrepreneurship (Self-Employment) Right for You?” And “Steps to Starting a Small Business… Do What You Know and Love!”

Date: Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Time: 10:00 am- 12:30 am

Location: Center for Women & Enterprise
132 George M Cohan Blvd.
Providence, RI, 02903

To Register for this Class or For More Information Call 737-1238 (Seating Is Limited!)

logo for the RI Developmental Disabilities Councillogo for the Center For Women & Enterprise

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