About the Center for Disabilities

About the Center for Disabilities

The Center for Disabilities was established in 1971 as part of a national network of federally-designated centers now known as University Centers for Excellence in Development Disabilities, Education, Research and Service (UCEDDS). Our mission is to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families across the state of South Dakota, the region and nationally. The Center for Disabilities carries out its diverse capacity-building efforts through community education, clinical services, interdisciplinary training, technical assistance, research, information dissemination and policy/advocacy work. Our work focuses on the strengths and contributions of people with disabilities. We believe that all people can achieve independence, self-determination, productivity and community inclusion. We strive for a brighter future within the community of people with disabilities, their families and the workforce who support them. 

Our Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program provides long-term, graduate level interdisciplinary training as well as interdisciplinary services and care. The purpose of the LEND training program is to improve the health of infants, children, and adolescents with disabilities. They accomplish this by preparing trainees from diverse professional disciplines to assume leadership roles in their respective fields and by ensuring high levels of interdisciplinary clinical competence.

Association of University Centers on Disabilities Network

  • We belong to 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 Office on Intellectual Developmental Disabilities (OIDD)
  • 60 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)

These programs serve and are located in every U.S. state and territory and are all part of universities or medical centers. They serve as a bridge between the university and the community, bringing together the resources of both to achieve meaningful change.

South Dakota Developmental Disabilities Network

Through our partnership with the South Dakota Council on Developmental Disabilities and Disability Rights South Dakota, our three organizations make up what is known as the South Dakota Developmental Disabilities Network. Our collective work together with other stakeholders strive to ensure to carry out the plans and requirements of the DD Act of 2000. 

The Developmental Disabilities Network is supported by the Administration on Community Living, at the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Disability Rights South Dakota

Disability Rights South Dakota is a Protection and Advocacy Systems (P&As), which works at the state level to protect individuals with disabilities by empowering them and advocating on their behalf. There are 57 P&As in the United States and its territories, and each is independent of service-providing agencies in their states. Disability Rights SD is dedicated to the ongoing fight for the personal and civil rights of individuals with disabilities. It provides legal support to traditionally unserved or underserved populations to help them navigate the legal system to achieve resolution and encourage systems change. P&As ensure that individuals with disabilities are able to exercise their rights to make choices, contribute to society and live independently. 

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South Dakota Council on Developmental Disabilities

The South Dakota Council on Developmental Disabilities (DD Council) is a federally funded, self-governing organizations charged with identifying the most pressing needs of people with developmental disabilities in the state. The DD Council is committed to advancing public policy and systems change that help these individuals gain more control over their lives. It works to address identified needs by conducting advocacy, systems change, and capacity building efforts that promote self-determination, integration, and inclusion. Key activities include conducting outreach, providing training and technical assistance, removing barriers, developing coalitions, encouraging citizen participation and keeping policymakers informed about disability issues.

Community Advisory Council

The Community Advisory Council (CAC) provides guidance to the Center for Disabilities, ensuring what we do is responsive to the needs and interests of people and communities across South Dakota. The CAC is made up of: 

  • individuals with developmental and related disabilities
  • family members of individuals with developmental disabilities
  • a representative of the State protection and advocacy system
  • a representative of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities
  • a representative of a self-advocacy organization
  • representatives of organizations that may include parent training and information centers, entities carrying out the Assistive Technology Act, and other community groups concerned with the welfare of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families 

As part of their commitment, CAC members:

  • Consult with Executive Director 
  • Review training, research and informational resources
  • Participate in the annual review and five-year plans
  • Meet quarterly, twice in-person and twice by telephone or videoconferencing

To learn more about becoming a CAC member, contact cd@usd.edu.


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