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The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities

NACDD is the national association for the 56 Councils on Developmental Disabilities (DD Councils) across the United States and its territories. The DD Councils receive federal funding to support programs that promote self-determination, integration and inclusion for all people in the United States with developmental disabilities.


  • To provide technical assistance to all DD Councils
  • To advocate for the national public policy agenda
  • To advocate for DD Councils’ appropriations in Congress
  • To convene DD Councils for leadership and development training

NACDD on the Inauguration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Kamala Harris

NACDD is proud and honored to join with millions across our nation today as we celebrate the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. as president and Kamala Harris as Vice President of the United States. We hope that the day will be one of respect and safety as we honor an event that for hundreds of years has given us the opportunity to witness the “changing of the guard” and is representative of our democracy.

I have always found the pomp and circumstance of the events and activities of the inauguration thrilling and exciting regardless of the candidate or party they represent. It is a time to publicly watch democracy in action and to take stock of what Americans expect from their government leaders at all levels of service. It is a time when should all be thinking about what we ask of our government leaders to make sure that as people we have equal access to important services and systems such as education, employment, healthcare, housing, and transportation to name a few. Our government provides the backbone of this important work and every four or eight years we, the people of America, get to choose who we want to lead our government.

NACDD is proud that over the last year we worked hard to encourage more people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to take part in their civic duty to vote. We hope that many more people with intellectual and developmental disabilities will continue to work with their federal, state, and local governments to continue the hard work of ensuring that all systems push forward our goal of ensuring that all people have access to living their best life in the community regardless of race, religion, gender, age, cultural background, ability, or disability.

This year, of course, none of us will be in Washington, DC for in-person inaugural events. We will all watch from our homes. Hopefully, we will still be able to feel a sense of community, respect, and excitement as we watch the proceedings. Most of all I hope that as you watch, you will think about what you personally can do to continue to work toward equity for people with I/DD and how we can work collaboratively across the issues that may try to divide us, to continue to build communities that are truly accessible and welcoming to all. Enjoy your Inauguration Day!

-Donna Meltzer, NACDD CEO

Voting Rights and the For the People Act

With the 117th Congress being sworn in just days ago, H.R. 1, the For the People Act package has been reintroduced in Congress today. The For the People Act expands Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants. It protects voting rights and limits the corrosive effect of big money in politics. This landmark legislation gets at the heart of many systemic problems and creates a renewed confidence and trust, to take part in our democracy.

NACDD supports the voting rights provisions H.R. 1, as it will help ensure that people with I/DD are granted a safe and equal right to take part in the election process. Every voice should be heard, and every vote should be counted. It is imperative that everyone has equal access to their polling place. The House should pass it immediately, the Senate should follow, and President-elect Biden should sign it as soon as he takes office.

NACDD statement on the passing of Richard Thornburgh

Richard “Dick” Thornburgh, former Pennsylvania Governor and United States Attorney General under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, passed away on December 31st outside Pittsburgh. NACDD mourns the passing of a key figure who was instrumental in passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act.

Dick Thornburgh fought for full inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of life. The father of a son with an intellectual disability, Mr. Thornburgh combined his personal and political agendas to champion the Bush Administration’s effort to enact the ADA which barred discrimination against people with physical, mental and sensory disabilities. Shortly after the ADA was signed into law, Mr. Thornburgh called it “the next great leap forward in the civil rights movement.”

For the rest of his life, whether in public office or private practice, he continued to fight for full implementation of the promise of the ADA and defend against current threats to weaken its intent. In 2008, he led the effort to enact ADA Amendments Act which counteracted the Supreme Court’s narrow interpretation of disability and provided broad protection from discrimination. Most recently, he rallied to help defeat the ADA Education and Reform Act, which would have imposed new burdens on people with disabilities before they can file a civil action for an accessibility violation in a public accommodation case. Mr. Thornburgh’s compassion, lived experience as a parent, and legislative genius, persuaded members from both sides of the aisle to achieve these important legislative victories for people with disabilities.

NACDD ON Human Rights Day

The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) joins The United Nations in commemorating Human Rights Day. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) states that in order for the world to have freedom, justice, and peace, EVERY human being, including people with disabilities, must be respected equally. No one person or group should take it upon themselves to destroy the rights of another human being.

Human Rights Day is an international day of commemoration on December 10th. This day observes the United Nations General Assembly’s proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). UDHR was the first universal document that proclaimed the inalienable rights that humans are entitled to regardless of race, religion, sex, language, disability, etc. The UDHR contains a total of thirty articles protecting human rights including the right to life, equal protection under the law, and freedom of expression. For 2020 the theme of Human Rights Day relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring that Human Rights are central to recovery efforts.

The UDHR has had a wide influence on the global community as it has been translated into over 500 different languages. The aim of the UDHR is to protect the dignity and equality of all humans. Today is a day to reemphasize the importance of human rights both within and outside of the American disability community.

NACDD on National Family Caregivers Month

This November, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) celebrates National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM) as a time to recognize and thank family caregivers across the country. NCFM offers an opportunity to raise awareness of caregiving issues, educate communities, and increase support for family caregivers. We honor those who provide daily support helping family members with I/DD manage their activities of daily living and helping them access the community and use technology to connect to important health services as well as friends and family For some, caregiving during COVID has been particularly challenging. Having paid caregivers coming into the house has not be feasible or safe and family members have stepped in taking time away from their own jobs and other pursuits to provide care.

The national celebration is spearheaded by the Caregiver Action Network (CAN), a nonprofit that provides free education, peer support, and resources to family caregivers.

NACDD thanks all caregivers who work with individuals with I/DD and their families every day. The value and support provided by caregivers is truly immeasurable. To celebrate NCFM with CAN, click here to read about resources provided by the organizations for and by caregivers.

NACDD on National Native American Heritage Month

National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities celebrates the culture and heritage of the remarkable Americans who deeply enrich the quality and character of our Nation.

For almost one hundred years, Native Americans and Alaska Natives, and Non-Native Americans have urged that there be a permanently designated,  special place on the calendar to honor the contributions, achievements, sacrifices, and cultural and historical legacy of the original inhabitants of  the United States and their descendants: the American Indian and Alaska Native people.

According to the 2010 US Census, 24% of Native Americans and Alaska Natives have a disability, compared to 19% of the general population. This disproportionate number creates a need for tribes to support their citizens with disabilities in becoming self-sufficient. However, they remain unserved or underserved from services and supports across the country.

NACDD celebrates the contributions and story of the Native American community. For events occurring throughout the month be sure to check out the Bureau of Indian Affairs at U.S. Department of the Interior.

Louisiana DD Council search for Executive Director Posting

The Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council is searching for a new Executive Director. The Council is seeking a compassionate leader to drive needed changes in Louisiana’s service delivery system for persons with developmental disabilities.

The position will remain open till January 7, 2021.

To find the job posting, click here.

California v. Texas and the Affordable Care Act

On Tuesday, November 10th, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments In California v. Texas, representing the seventh time in eight years that the validity of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was in front of the court and the second time it faces a constitutional challenge seeking to invalidate the entire law. Republican state officials and the Trump administration argue that when Congress repealed the ACA’s individual insurance mandate in 2017, it invalidated the entire law. Their argument is that the mandate cannot be severed from the rest of the law and that, as a result, the entirety of the law must be struck down.

Earlier this year, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities joined 18 other leading disability rights organizations in an amicus brief which is part of the record being reviewed by the court. NACDD argues that people with disabilities will suffer irreparable harm if the ACA disappears. The ACA prevents people from being denied coverage or charged more due to pre-existing conditions & made coverage of needed services available & affordable to millions of people with disabilities for the first time.

During the arguments today, Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts made comments suggesting that they are likely to uphold the ACA which could tip the majority of justices to vote to uphold ACA even if its individual mandate provision is declared unconstitutional. But we will have to wait to see which way the court ultimately rules.

To read NACDD’s amicus brief with the US Supreme Court, click here.

NACDD Commemorates 50 Years of DD Council Success

Congress amended the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963 in the Developmental Disabilities Services and Facilities Construction Amendments of 1970,[6] a law that introduced the term “developmental disability” and expanded the population covered under the law beyond individuals with mental retardation to include individuals with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and certain other neurological conditions that originate before the age of 18.

On October 30th, 1970 President Richard Nixon signed the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963 Amendments establishing for the first time the State Planning and Advisory Councils, better known today as Councils on Developmental Disabilities (DD Councils). The Act went on to eventually be known as the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act and is more commonly referred to as the DD Act. While the name changed several times over the years, we are pleased and proud to celebrate the amazing achievement of the inclusion of the DD Councils into law in 1970. This October 30th marks the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the DD Councils.

For 50 years the DD Councils have worked tirelessly to improve systems in their states and territories helping people with Intellectual and developmental disabilities to lives their best life in the community. By identifying gaps in the system and creating innovative solutions to problems that keep people with I/DD from fully accessing the community, DD Councils make communities more inclusive and improve opportunities for people with I/DD to live, learn, work and play alongside their peers.

“Looking back in history it is amazing to me that in 1963 we were building bricks and mortar learning and research centers to study intellectual disabilities. Only a few short years later we passed a bill that instructed Governors to appoint people with lived experience to guide the way in their own states and territories. With federal money in hand people with I/DD were advising governors and legislators on how to build inclusive communities,” said Donna Meltzer, CEO of the NACDD. “that was a real game-changer.”

NACDD is excited to celebrate this anniversary and all the benefits and opportunities it has created for people and families with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities Releases New Report Detailing Role of Developmental Disabilities Councils in Supporting People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities During COVID-19

Washington, DC – National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), through its Information and Technical Assistance Center for Councils on Developmental Disabilities (ITACC) released a new report, “State Councils on Developmental Disabilities COVID-19 Report: Council Activities, Initiatives, and Impact.” This report highlights how the nation’s State and Territorial Developmental Disabilities Councils used resources and connections to provide critical support to individuals and families with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to stay safe, healthy, and connected to community during this ongoing pandemic.

“The 56 State and Territorial Developmental Disabilities Councils are in a unique position to support individuals with I/DD during this pandemic,” said Donna Meltzer, CEO of NACDD. “Councils can work swiftly to create change through policy and service delivery and many jumped in quickly to make sure that people received accessible information, had access to personal protection equipment (PPE), and technology to stay connected with others.”

The paper, written by Brian Cox, former Executive Director of the Maryland Council on Developmental Disabilities, provides data with charts and graphs as well as brief highlights and examples from many states and territories explaining how they determined critical needs in their state and how they responded with innovative solutions. “By leveraging relationships, investing funding where needed most, and advocating for state policies and practices that effectively address the needs of individuals with I/DD, Councils have had a direct and significant impact on the lives of our fellow citizens with disabilities. This consequential work continues and will be needed for quite some time,” said Cox, author of the report.

To read the full report click here.

This paper was made possible through a contract funded by the Administration on Community Living, Office of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.


NACDD on Learning Disabilities Awareness Month

October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month. Learning Disabilities Awareness Month aims to educateraise awareness, and celebrate the unique differences of various learning disabilities including dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and other executive functioning difficulties. According to the U.S. Department of Education, approximately 2.5 million students have dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia and approximately 6 million students have ADHD. Often a student has several or more of these disabilities 

LDAM was established in 1985 when Congress created House Joint Resolution 287 requesting the designation of the month of October to be “Learning Disabilities Awareness Month”. On October 11, 1985, President Ronald Reagan signed Proclamation 5385 officially honoring Learning Disabilities Awareness Month. In his proclamation he articulately states, “Awareness of learning disabilities is one of the most important advances in education in recent years. As more and more Americans become aware, our citizens with learning disabilities will have even greater opportunity to lead full and productive lives and to make a contribution to our society”.  

NACDD is joining in marking Learning Disabilities Awareness Month to better inform educators, students, parents, and the greater American community about the diversity of learning processes and the potential that those with learning disabilities hold.  

“As a parent of a now young adult who struggled in school with learning disabilities, I know how important it is that educators, parents and learning specialists take these disabilities seriously and act early. With early intervention and the right supports, these students can succeed in their education and become adults who will equally succeed in the workplace,” said Donna Meltzer, CEO of the NACDD.    

To learn more about learning disabilities please visit the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. To check out all events held this month, click here. 


“We the people” lost a larger-than-life champion for equality on the Supreme Court this weekend. For 27 years, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg helped move the Supreme Court into a new century of jurisprudence with thoughtful and contemporary decisions and dissents. While she will be remembered primarily for her work on gender equity, many of her decisions and dissents were particularly focused on expanding individual rights and equality to other groups. Most significant for the disability rights movement was her majority opinion in the 1999 decision Olmstead v. LC.

It is fitting that Ruth Bader Ginsburg would author the majority opinion for Olmstead. Justice Ginsburg was a master of statutory interpretation and using congressional intent to inform decisions. Her lifetime experience as an advocate certainly influenced her strong defense of individual rights and liberty. In Olmstead, she explained how the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act provided clear proof of Congress’ intent for people with disabilities to live in the community. Furthermore, she made it crystal clear that the Americans with Disabilities Act established that unjustified institutional isolation of persons with disabilities is a form of discrimination. With these important decisions, the disability rights movement gained a foothold to advance the struggle for full participation and right to live in the community.

Justice Ginsburg also made Supreme Court decisions more accessible. Her fervent prose protecting individual rights and equality was the subject of countless memes, quotes and other social media content that often went “viral.” Her life inspired a full-length feature movie and several documentaries and she became revered and a role model for a generation of you people, primarily women, who understood that she paved the way for all the opportunities that women have today. An entire generation of Americans reverently referred to her as “The Notorious RBG” for her scathing oratory aimed at anyone who would deny individual rights. She held nothing back while moving our country forward to a more contemporary and expansive definition of equality for all.

Resources for this election season!

With election season underway, One Vote Now has put together a resource list with all of the organizations that have provided information on everything you may need to make an informed decision this November. This information has been collected from the websites listed, so please refer to each website for more detailed information.

To read through all our resources, click here!


One Vote Now

This National Disability Voter Registration Week, we are so excited to re-launch One Vote Now, our resource website on voting and the Presidential Election. is here to help make sure you can exercise your right to vote because nothing should block your ability to participate in our democracy. Elections should be equally accessible for all Americans—including the disability community. Elections are more fair when they represent all of us. 

Press Release


NACDD would like to thank our sponsors for their support and partnerships.