In April of 2013, fueled by the persistence of disproportionately poorer health experienced by children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)—and a bottle of exceptional Syrah—a small group of healthcare professionals wondered together what could be done to fully and finally address health disparities. We wondered whether we could meaningfully engage the global community of people with IDD, their families and advocates, researchers, practitioners, and healthcare professionals in an examination of progress on Surgeon General David Satcher's call to action: Closing the Gap: A National Blueprint to Improve the Health of Persons with Mental Retardation: Report of the Surgeon General's Conference on Health Disparities and Mental Retardation (Office of the Surgeon General, 2002). These musings eventually culminated in the Global Summit on Innovations in Health and IDD, held in conjunction with the 2015 World Special Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California. This gathering of many of the world's top professionals who focus on the intersection of health, healthcare, and people with IDD, has resulted in rededicated momentum in the movement toward dramatically improving health for people with IDD. Perhaps most important, it has resulted in the development of a global strategic plan—one that intersects intimately with the 2015 National Goals in Research, Practice and Policy in Health and Wellness for and with People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 2015)—that seeks without equivocation to end health disparities for people with IDD.
Some of the work represented in this special issue of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities has its origin at that conference. I am profoundly grateful to the authors of these works, scholars, practitioners and scientists who will guide us in our pursuit of health equity.
There are too many friends, colleagues, and partners to acknowledge fully here. However, a brief listing of some of the planning and leadership team might help to reveal the diversity of the movement: Matt Holder from the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD); Leslie Rubin and Joav Merrick, friends and colleagues who were advocates for a worldwide scope to the project; Glenn Fujiura, Tamar Heller, David Braddock, Shea Tanis, and Laurence Taggart, key leaders in the research and policy community who proved so crucial to much of the program; Kathy Brown, Immediate Past President of Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association (DDNA), who helped immeasurably with logistics; and Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics, who scrapped his prepared presentation and delivered a powerful keynote address at the Global Summit that set the tone for our work going forward. I hope this special issue inspires you as much as it does me.