The Developmental Disabilities Assistance
and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act)
Since 1963, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act) has made a crucial difference in the lives and futures of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Through the DD Act, federal funds support the development and operation of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, Protection and Advocacy Systems, University Centers (formerly known as University Affiliated Programs), and Projects of National Significance.
This crucial investment has provided the structure to assist people with developmental disabilities to pursue meaningful and productive lives. These programs have made community living possible for individuals with significant disabilities across our nation. The DD Act has led to further federal legislation in support of all people with disabilities.
When the DD Act was first conceived, the primary emphasis was on the advancement of scientific understanding, professional education, and ensuring access to, and safety of, institutional facilities. Later changes, as conceived by Dr. Elizabeth Boggs, Dr. Elsie Helsel, and others, focused on the efforts of families, professionals, and state agencies to improve supports for all people with developmental disabilities. Today, the programs emphasize fundamental systems change, including legal services, advocacy, and capacity building at the state and local levels. The focus is on listening to people with developmental disabilities as self advocates, and helping people with developmental disabilities and their families obtain the information, assistive technology, and supports they need in order to make more informed choices about how and where to live and work, and be active and involved citizens in their communities.
We deeply appreciate the contributions of the Connecticut Developmental Disabilities Council, Ed Preneta, Executive Director, and the Texas Developmental Disabilities Council, Roger Webb, Executive Director. Their respective archives of historical documents have helped to make this history of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act as complete as possible.
The text of The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 can be read online at the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (US Department of Health and Human Services) Web site.
Allan Bergman on the Evolution of the
Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act)
Allan Bergman is a nationally recognized leader in influencing the development of federal and state policy relating to best practice services and supports for persons with disabilities. He has held leadership positions within local, state, and national non-profit organizations, most recently serving as CEO of Anixter Center, one of Chicago’s largest community agencies. Prior to that, he served as President and CEO of the Brain Injury Association of America and held several Director positions with United Cerebral Palsy Associations.
At the June 2, 2010 meeting of the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, Allan Bergman talked about the evolution of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act). In interview format, he then responded to specific questions about the DD Act and shared little known stories about how certain aspects of the DD Act came about over the years.