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National Council on Disability celebrates 42 years of advancing national disability policy

Friday, November 6, 2020

WASHINGTON—The National Council on Disability (NCD)—an independent federal agency—today celebrates its 42-year anniversary of advancing national disability policy through its advisory role to federal policymakers.

On Nov. 6, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed Public Law 95-602, replacing the former Title IV of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 with a new Title IV. The change established an advisory council within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare called the National Council on the Handicapped, which was NCD’s original name.

The law set forth the duties of the National Council, including establishing general policies for the National Institute of Handicapped Research–now known as the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR)– and reviewing and evaluating on a continuing basis policies, programs, and activities concerning people with disabilities.

A year later, Congress passed the Department of Education Organization Act and President Carter signed Public Law 96-88 into law, at which time the Council was moved under the newly-created U.S. Department of Education.

The Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1984, signed by President Ronald Reagan as Public Law 98-221, next transformed NCD into an independent federal agency, with the purpose of promoting policies, programs, practices, and procedures that guarantee equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability; and empower individuals with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society.

Two years after gaining its independence, in 1986, NCD recommended enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and drafted the first version of the bill which was introduced in the House and Senate in 1988. The ADA became law in 1990.

Since then, NCD has continued to play a leading role in crafting disability policy, and advising the President, Congress and other federal agencies on disability policies, programs, and practices, and working with policymakers on legislation and regulations that improve the lives of people with disabilities.

“As disability is part of the human experience, the impact of NCD since its inception is evident in every aspect of America’s national disability policy, both now and in the future,” said NCD Chairman Neil Romano. “NCD has worked tirelessly, from the Americans with Disabilities Act to advising the President, Congress and federal agencies on issues impacting more than 61 million Americans with some form of disability.”

While several government agencies deal with issues and programs affecting people with disabilities, NCD is the only federal agency charged with addressing, analyzing, and making recommendations on issues of public policy that affect people with disabilities regardless of age, disability type, perceived employment potential, economic need, specific functional ability, status as a veteran, or other individual circumstance.

An official website of the National Council on Disability