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Policy Drives Change

By creating laws and policies that recognize the perspectives and rights of people with developmental disabilities, NACDD believes the entire community will benefit. NACDD leads the national policy agenda for the DD Councils, and works with national coalition partners to address the most pressing issues for people with developmental disabilities at the federal level. NACDD serves as a key adviser on issues such as the disability treaty, workforce, education and health for the media, policy advisers and lawmakers.  NACDD’s CEO, Donna Meltzer, leads a staff and volunteer board that is often called upon by the White House and Congress for input, to testify before Senate and House committees, and to meet with members of Congress and their staff.

Partnerships and Coalitions

The growing impact of coalitions focused on important issues to people with developmental disabilities is expanding the impact of our work.  By partnering with like-minded advocacy organizations, our reach onto Capitol Hill and federal agencies is expanding and the media coverage of our issues is increasing.  NACDD believes that working together with other organizations both within and beyond the disability community that share the broader vision for every American’s fundamental rights is key to our success. Our Coalition Partners include:

Sign-On Letters - 2020

NACDD’s response to PASRR

NACDD opposes CMS’ proposed changes to Preadmission Screening and Resident Review (PASRR). PASRR requirements prevent unnecessary placement in nursing facilities, and allows for residents of such facilities to transition back into community living. CMS’ proposed changes weaken PASRR, allowing for states to admit people to nursing facilities more easily while also making it more difficult for residents to transition back into the community. You can read the letter here.

Census Project Letter to House and Senate Subcommittees on FY2021

NACDD urges support from the House and Senate Subcommittees for them to donate $1.681 billion for the Census Bureau in FY 2021.

You can read the letter here.

HHS and Disability Status Collection

NACDD urges Health and Human Services (HHS) to collect and report data on demographic characteristics, de-identified and disaggregated by disability status, to better inform the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Letter to HHS about Disability Status Data Collection

DRRC Letter to Sec. Azar on Disability Data Collection

Joint Statement on the Universal Civil and Human Rights of People with the Most Significant Developmental Disabilities  

NACDD proudly stands with The Autistic Self Advocacy Network on their joint statement on universal human rights.

Protect and Strengthen Medicaid and CHIP in Next COVID-19 Relief Package

Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act (S. 995)

NACDD supports legislation to reauthorize the Lifespan Respite Care Program at $50 million over five years.

Coalition Letter for the Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act

DD Act and Other Major Federal Legislation

The Developmental Disabilities and Bill of Rights Assistance Act (DD Act) 1963, 2000

The DD Act, most recently updated in 2000, was originally created in 1963 under President John F. Kennedy as the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963.  The initial goal was to address problems in state-run institutions for people with disabilities.  Over time, the goal has evolved to “assure that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families participate in the design of and have access to needed community services, individualized supports, and other forms of assistance that promote self-determination, independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion in all facets of community life…” [Sect 101, DD Act of 2000]. To achieve this broad goal, the DD Act reauthorized three programs that operate in each state and territory (UCEDD, DD Councils, and PADD) known as the DD Network. The DD Act leads the work of the DD Councils and the key piece of overarching legislation that guides the policy work of NACDD.


The Rehabilitation Act of 1973

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 oversees federal vocational rehabilitation services for people with disabilities.  The law’s regulations and reauthorization still hold key relevance to employment policy for people with developmental disabilities. Importantly, the Rehabilitation Act was the first federal law to create and extend civil rights to people with disabilities and became the foundation for creating the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

The Americans with Disabilities Act is the most sweeping federal legislation on the civil rights of people with disabilities.  The law prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for people with disability in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities and transportation.  The law was amended in 2008 to clarify its original intent and confirm its expansive protections.

Photo of President George H. W. Bush signing the Americans with Disabilities Act inscribed to Justin Dart, Jr., 1990