Originally authorized in 1963, and last reauthorized in 2000, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act), Public Law 106-402, focuses on the needs of the estimated 4.5 million individuals with developmental disabilities. The DD Act ensures that individuals with developmental disabilities participate fully in their communities through full integration and inclusion in the economic, political, social, cultural, religious and educational sectors of our society. The DD Act further ensures that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families participate in the design of and have access to culturally competent services, supports and other assistance and opportunities that promote independence, productivity, integration and inclusion in the community.
You may read the following sections of this topic in sequence or jump to any specific section in the list below:
· General Information
· DD Act Programs
o State and Territorial Councils on Developmental Disabilities
o University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDD)
o Protection and Advocacy Systems
o Projects of National Significance
· Additional Information
o State Agencies related to the DD Act
o Full Text of The Developmental Disabilities Act of 2000
o Definition of a Developmental Disability
· See Also
The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act) ensures that individuals with developmental disabilities participate fully in their communities through full integration and inclusion in the economic, political, social, cultural, religious and educational sectors of our society. The DD Act further ensures that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families participate in the design of and have access to culturally competent services, supports and other assistance and opportunities that promote independence, productivity, integration and inclusion in the community.
The Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) is the Federal agency responsible for implementation and administration of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act. Organizationally, the Administration on Developmental Disabilities is located within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is part of the Department's Administration for Children and Families. The ADD website is at:
The Developmental Disabilities Act requires the Administration on Developmental Disabilities to ensure that people with developmental disabilities and their families receive the services and supports they need and participate in the planning and designing of those services. The DD Act established eight areas of emphasis for ADD programs: Employment, Education, Child Care, Health, Housing, Transportation, Recreation, and Quality Assurance.
ADD meets the requirements of the DD Act through the work of the programs described below. These programs work individually and collectively to ensure a strong foundation for DD services and supports necessary for the inclusion of children and adults with developmental disabilities in all facets of community life.
In the 1970 reauthorization of the DD Act, Congress recognized the need for strengthening State efforts to coordinate and integrate services for individuals with developmental disabilities. As a result, Congress established and authorized funding for State Developmental Disabilities Councils (DD Councils) in each State and Territory. State and Territorial Councils on Developmental Disabilities work to improve the quality of supports and services for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.
Each state and territory has a Developmental Disabilities Council that functions to increase the independence, productivity, inclusion, and community integration of people with developmental disabilities. DDC activities demonstrate new ideas for enhancing people's lives through training activities, through community education and support, by making information available to policy-makers, and by eliminating barriers.
A key mission of Councils is to advise Governors and State agencies on the use of available and potential resources to meet the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities. State DD Councils engage in advocacy, build capacity and work to affect change and enhance systems to contribute to a coordinated, consumer-directed and family-centered array of community services, individualized supports and other forms of assistance. Their work allows individuals with developmental disabilities to exercise self-determination and live in their communities.
For additional information, see State Councils on Developmental Disabilities.
Earlier versions of the DD Act focused primarily on federally funded, interdisciplinary training programs for professionals who work with individuals with developmental disabilities. In the 2000 reauthorization of the DD Act, these programs became University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDD).
UCEDD is a grant program providing support to a national network of University Centers to support interdisciplinary training, exemplary services, technical assistance, and information/ dissemination activities. University Centers positively affect the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families by increasing their independence, productivity, and integration into communities.
University Centers have four broad tasks: conduct interdisciplinary training, promote community service programs, provide technical assistance at all levels (from local service delivery to community and state governments), and conduct research and dissemination activities.
For additional information, see University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDD).
In 1975, Congress created and authorized funding for Protection and Advocacy Systems (P & As) in each State and Territory to ensure the safety and well being of individuals with developmental disabilities, to protect them from abuse and neglect, and to ensure their human and civil rights.
Each state has a Protection and Advocacy (P&A) System to empower, protect, and advocate on behalf of persons with developmental disabilities. The P&As are independent of service-providing agencies and offer information and referral services for legal, administrative, and other remedies to resolve problems for individuals and groups of clients.
P&As enhance the quality of life of people with developmental disabilities by investigating incidents of abuse and neglect and discrimination based on disability. The P&As also provide an annual opportunity for the public to comment on the objectives, priorities, and activities of the system. This gives clients and others in the community an opportunity to voice their concerns and needs to the P&A.
For additional comprehensive information, see Protection and Advocacy Systems - Overview.
The 1975 reauthorization of the DD Act established and authorized funding for Projects of National Significance (PNS) to address particular national needs.
The PNS program awards grants and contracts that promote and increase the independence, productivity, inclusion and integration into the community of persons with developmental disabilities. These projects focus on the most pressing issues for people with developmental disabilities across the country. These projects may involve research, technical assistance, projects which improving supportive living and quality of life opportunities, projects to educate policymakers, and efforts to create interagency Federal collaboration.
Examples of current project areas include: Administration on Developmental Disabilities web and family support programs, child care, education and early intervention, employment, family support, health, housing, Medicaid, quality assurance, recreation, self-determination and transportation. The Developmental Disabilities Act provides for additional federal granting opportunities with criteria developed by the federal administration based on best practices and issues identified by the states as priority areas.
A comprehensive list of contact information for each state's Council on DD, Protection and Advocacy Agency, and UCEDD is available at:
The full text of The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-402) is available online in both PDF (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) and HTML format at:
Developmental disabilities are severe, chronic disabilities attributable to mental and/or physical impairment, which manifest before age 22 and are likely to continue indefinitely. They result in substantial limitations in three or more areas: self-care, receptive and expressive language, learning, mobility, self-direction, capacity for independent living and economic self-sufficiency, as well as the continuous need for individually planned and coordinated services.
- Administration on Developmental Disabilities, January 25, 2002
State Councils on Developmental Disabilities
University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDD)
Protection and Advocacy Systems - Overview
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