David Mank – History of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act)
Articles,  Blog

David Mank – History of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act)

[Instrumental music] There are 67 such centers or institutes in the
country and in or US territories that have the designation as the University Center for
Excellence on Developmental Disabilities. And that designation comes with a grant from
the Administration of Community Living and the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental
Disabilities in the US Department of Health and Human Services. Every state has one. And a number of territories have one, a few
states, California, New York, Georgia, some of the largest– Florida, some of the larger
states have two or even three. Most states like Indiana have one. Now, the history of why there’s the University
Center for Excellence is– at any state, is somewhat unique. And it actually comes from the John Kennedy
administration. As you know, many people know, John Kennedy had a sister, Rosemary, who had a developmental disability. And he and the Kennedy family were keen to
draw attention to the issue of quality of life or lack of services, the situation if you will. Nineteen– I believe it was in 1962, Kennedy
was preparing for the State of the Union address. And for the first time ever, the quality of
life conditions for people with developmental disabilities he wanted to bring to the attention
of the nation in the State of the Union address. And while he was doing this preparation, he
realized he couldn’t really find any information from anyone about the national status of people
with developmental disabilities in the United States. And he was quite shocked by that, by a report. And so, he called his sister, Eunice– now,
let me take a little sidetrack on the story before I move on down. Because Eunice and the Kennedy family
had a friend by the name of Bob Cooke. And Bob Cooke was a pediatrician who happened
to live in Florida, I believe. And his specialty was, as a pediatrician was
children with developmental disabilities, so very unusual sort of specialty in those
days. Well, on the day when John Kennedy called
Eunice, Eunice was playing tennis with Bob Cooke. And they got on the phone and the president
said he couldn’t believe he couldn’t find any information, what should we do about this? And Eunice and Bob at that point started to
sit down and crafted this notion that, well, there should be centers in major universities
around the country that would have information and data about the status of people with developmental disabilities and their state or in the country. And that notion grew as a piece of legislation
called the Developmental Disabilities Act. There’s a longer title, I’m not remembering–
of I guess it would have been 1964 when it was eventually– no, 1963. So it included university centers. It also included the idea of a Governor’s
Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities that would be a policy unit in every state
and a Protection and Advocacy system which would be an equal rights — protecting the rights
of people with developmental disabilities. So those three ideas, a University Center,
a Governor’s Council and a Protection and Advocacy system were all defined in the Developmental
Disabilities Act in 1963. And it was passed by Congress and we believe
it was the last piece of legislation that Kennedy signed before he died. [Instrumental music]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *