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A Very Brief History of the National Council on Disability (NCD)

Washington, D.C., June 4 – This past month, the National Council on Disability (NCD) once again met to discuss critical issues impacting the lives of the 56 million Americans living with some form of disability. NCD has a long and proud history developing policies, programs, and plans to fight stigmas and advance opportunities. 

NCD was first established as a small advisory council within the Department of Education in 1978. In 1984, under President Reagan, NCD was transformed into an independent agency tasked with reviewing all federal policies and programs. NCD is now a self-governing federal agency responsible for providing advice to the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices and procedures that influence people with disabilities. The mission of the agency is to act as a trusted advisor in partnership with people with disabilities to the President, Congress, State, Tribal Communities, Local Governments, and other entities and organizations.

Following the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, NCD has continued to play a leading role in analyzing the needs of people with disabilities and crafting policy solutions. The NCD consists of a team of Presidential and Congressional appointees, an Executive Director who is appointed by the Chair, and a full-time professional staff who meet several times throughout the year to discuss policy trends, agency priorities and other agency business. Many of these meetings are open to the public, except for executive sessions under the Sunshine Act.

In summary, NCD performs its advisory roles with respect to disability policies, programs and procedures that enhance equal opportunity by: 

  1. Bringing together stakeholders to collect timely and significant input for recommendations and action steps
  2. Gathering and examining data and other relevant information 
  3. Engaging and influencing current debates and agendas 
  4. Recognizing and composing solutions to newer and long-standing challenges and
  5. Offering tools to aid efficient implementation

You can visit this link for a more detailed history of the agency. 

You can also view an archive of past NCD meetings, reports and recommendations here:

Published inADA

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