History of UCEDDs

The University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) national networks were signed into law on October 31, 1963 by President John F. Kennedy. Prior to signing this act, Kennedy created a President's Panel on Mental Retardation which created a report that was among the most comprehensive, multifaceted, and well researched documents in the disability field. The concept of UCEDDs came from the recommendations addressed in the report. The idea of support from higher education was stimulated by the possibility of federal funds from campus facilities to conduct research and provide training and clinical services.

The UCEDD program is authorized by the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 (DD Act). The purpose of the DD Act of 2000 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, integration and inclusion in all facets of community life, through culturally competent programs. To achieve this purpose, the DD Act authorizes funding for UCEDDs which are interdisciplinary education, research and public service units of universities, or public or not-for-profit entities associated with universities. The four core functions that frame a UCEDD program are:

  • Interdisciplinary pre-service preparation and continuing education
  • Research, including basic or applied research, evaluation, and public policy analysis
  • Information dissemination
  • Community services, including direct services, training, technical assistance, and model demonstrations

The University of Connecticut’s A.J. Pappanikou Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities was founded in 1985. We have assisted in the advancement of early intervention, health care, community-based services, inclusive and meaningful education, child care, transition from school to work, employment, recreation and quality assurance, housing, assistive technology, transportation, and/or family support. Our activities are guided by a belief in individualized support, inclusion, self-determination, natural support, and collaboration with organizations to address policy issues and systems change.

Woman with child


All people with disabilities living in Connecticut will have what they need to live a good life.

  • The University of Connecticut
  • Developmental Disabilities Network
  • Consumer Advisory Council


The UConn UCEDD will train others, study what happens, provide services, and share important information to help persons with disabilities and their families get the services and support that help them have a good life in the community.

  • Interdisciplinary Education
  • Community services
  • Research
  • Dissemination

Area of Emphasis

The Connecticut UCEDD will address the following areas as listed in the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000

  • Early childhood intervention
  • Schools
  • Health
  • Quality of Life