Congress amended the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963 in the Developmental Disabilities Services and Facilities Construction Amendments of 1970, a law that introduced the term “developmental disability” and expanded the population covered under the law beyond individuals with mental retardation to include individuals with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and certain other neurological conditions that originate before the age of 18.
On October 30th, 1970 President Richard Nixon signed the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963 Amendments establishing for the first time the State Planning and Advisory Councils, better known today as Councils on Developmental Disabilities (DD Councils). The Act went on to eventually be known as the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act and is more commonly referred to as the DD Act. While the name changed several times over the years, we are pleased and proud to celebrate the amazing achievement of the inclusion of the DD Councils into law in 1970. This October 30th marks the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the DD Councils.
For 50 years the DD Councils have worked tirelessly to improve systems in their states and territories helping people with Intellectual and developmental disabilities to lives their best life in the community. By identifying gaps in the system and creating innovative solutions to problems that keep people with I/DD from fully accessing the community, DD Councils make communities more inclusive and improve opportunities for people with I/DD to live, learn, work and play alongside their peers.
“Looking back in history it is amazing to me that in 1963 we were building bricks and mortar learning and research centers to study intellectual disabilities. Only a few short years later we passed a bill that instructed Governors to appoint people with lived experience to guide the way in their own states and territories. With federal money in hand people with I/DD were advising governors and legislators on how to build inclusive communities,” said Donna Meltzer, CEO of the NACDD. “that was a real game-changer.”
NACDD is excited to celebrate this anniversary and all the benefits and opportunities it has created for people and families with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.