In 1962, President John F. Kennedy put together the first President’s Panel on Mental Retardation. The panel made recommendations on what the federal government should do for people with intellectual disabilities. They set out to address challenges such as a lack of research and statistical data, as well as a critical shortage of professionals with appropriate training to meet the needs of people with disabilities across the lifespan. What resulted was a report based on the best available information from the disability field at the time.
Based on the panel’s recommendations, President Kennedy signed an Act (Title 1, Part B of Public Law 88-164) into law on October 31, 1963. The law created the UCEDDs, which have a unique focus and role within the disability community. This led to other federal investments in meeting the needs of people with disabilities, including those based at universities. Many universities are funded to do research and provide training and clinical services.
While each federally-funded center and program has their own name, together they make up the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD).
AUCD is a membership organization that supports and promotes a national network of university-based interdisciplinary programs. Network members consist of:
- 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), funded by the Administration on Intellectual Developmental Disabilities (AIDD)
- 52 Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Programs funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB)
- 14 Intellectual and Developmental Disability Research Centers (IDDRC), most of which are funded by the National Institute for Child Health and Development (NICHD)
Learn more about AUCD members, our strategic goals, and our mission, vision, and values on the AUCD website.