AUCD Pays Tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy, 1932-2009

August 26, 2009

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities mourns the loss of a giant in the Senate and a fearless champion of children and adults with special needs and disabilities and sends its deepest condolences to his wife Vicki, his children, and the entire extended Kennedy family. Senator Edward M. Kennedy passed away Tuesday night at his Cape Cod home at the age of 77. Senator Kennedy was a hero to the disability community and to millions of others who needed a voice in the halls of power and influence.

Senator Kennedy served for 46 years in the Senate, alongside ten Presidents. Over the course of his Congressional career, he played a key role in every major law that positively impacts people with developmental and other disabilities, including the Developmental Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Ryan White AIDS Care Act, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Mental Health Parity Act, the Family Opportunity Act, and most recently the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. These laws serve as the foundation of disability rights and national disability policy as we know it today.

As Chairman of the powerful Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Senator Kennedy was working on comprehensive health care reform and the less noticed but equally important Community Living Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, legislation designed to enable Americans to receive long-term services and supports in their homes and communities. Michael Gamel-McCormick, PhD, AUCD President said, "The entire disability community has lost an artful statesman and courageous leader who knew how to work across the aisle to get things done." AUCD's Director of Legislative Affairs stated, "Senator Kennedy was such a strong champion for individuals with disabilities. He sincerely cared for those who were least able to fight for themselves. Words cannot express how much his leadership will be missed."

AUCD will redouble its efforts in his memory and that of his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver to complete the mission to provide comprehensive health and long term services and supports for all those with special needs.



AUCD, located in Silver Spring, MD, is a national, non-profit organization that promotes and supports the national network of interdisciplinary university centers advancing policy and practices through research, education and services for and with individuals with developmental and other disabilities, their families, and communities. For more information and a directory of Centers, please visit our website at