Developmental Disabilities Act


What is the Developmental Disabilities Act?

The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act) is the fundamental law supporting and enhancing the lives of people with developmental disabilities and their families. The goal of the act is 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. The DD authorizes three programs that operate in each state and territory (UCEDD, DD Councils, and PADD) known as the DD Network. View the Developmental Disabilities Act in plain language.

Developmental Disabilities Act

Image Description:
UCEDD Resource Center A project of AUCD, in partnership with AIDD, to strengthen and support the network of the UCEDDS
Title: The DD Act directs the DD Network Partners to collectively promote Community Integration Clockwise Text : UCEDDSs University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities

Picture of an outline of United States of America with the words 1 or more in every US state and territory


  • Provide interdisciplinary pre-service preparation
  • Perform community services and training o Conduct research, evaluations, and information dissemination


Text: DD Council Developmental Disabilities
Picture of an outline of United States of America with the words 1 or more in every US state and territory


  • Understanding system barriers
  • Working with stakeholders to achieve enduring change
  • Empowering advocates


Text: P&As Protection & Advocacy
Picture of an outline of United States of America with the words 1 or more in every US state and territory


  • Monitor and investigate conditions in facilities that care for people with disabilities
  • Provide legal representation to people with disabilities
  • Ensure equal access to life in the community Center image


Circle with a house and accessible sign and a graph that shows the ranges of the Annual Average populations (25,000-275,000) of Large State ID/IDD facilities, 1960-2010.

Bottom of image AUCD Logo: AUCD Ball with the text Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Research, Education, Service

Sources: Residential Services for Persons with Developmental Disabilities Stories and Trends Through 2010 By Sharon Larson, Amanda Ryan, Patricia Salmi, Drew Smith and Allson Wururio Research and Training Center on Community Living, Institute on Community Integration UCEDD , College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota


Other Topics for 116th Congress

No bills have been introduced to reauthorize the DD Act to date.

Congress should provide an increase in appropriations for DD Act programs so that these programs can continue to respond to the needs of people with disabilities. With state budget cuts and inflation, these programs struggle to meet the demands of the growing population of people with developmental disabilities who experience multiple barriers to get and keep jobs, an education, and appropriate community based supports and services.

Congress should work toward timely reauthorization of the DD Act that:

  • Increases the funding authorization levels for the programs under the Act to expand the capacity of the DD Network and Family Support
  • Supports a separate title and funding authorization level (above and beyond funding for existing DD Act Programs) for self-advocate-directed Training and Information Centers.
  • Reauthorizing Title III - Preparation of Direct Support Professional Workforce to provide grants to states for personnel preparation, model demonstrations and systems change projects to improve the recruitment, training, support and retention of a qualified direct service professional workforce in each state
  • Learn more from Rising Expectations: The Developmental Disabilities Act Revisited