A Vision for the Future

The American Association of University Affiliated Programs (AAUAP) envisions a future where all Americans, including those with disabilities and special health needs, are integral and fully participating members of their communities. Culturally appropriate supports are available across the life span to children and adults with disabilities and special health needs and their families to help individuals realize their potential for leading independent, productive and satisfying lives of their choosing. AAUAP member organizations play an important role in making this vision a reality.

AAUAP Mission

AAUAP implements this vision by supporting its member organizations and using the best that universities have to offer: scholarship, leadership development and the opportunity for community partnerships that promote independence, productivity and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities and special health needs and their families. AAUAP members form a national network by working together on policies and projects and by nurturing the collective energy and abilities of the members to exceed the unique strengths and competencies of any one member. AAUAP serves as a focal point for the network by collecting, organizing, and disseminating data on network outcomes and accomplishments. AAUAP engages in legislative and administrative advocacy, promotes communication among and between its members, and offers national leadership to help address major social problems affecting children and adults with disabilities and special health needs. Member organizations engage in a range of interdisciplinary activities:

Through its members, the organization serves as a resource for local, state, national and international agencies and organizations concerned with disability issues.

Statement of Philosophy

AAUAP brings to bear the unique strengths of its member organizations on the national obligation and commitment to improve the lives of children and adults with disabilities and special health needs and their families. Member programs are located in, or affiliated with, major higher education institutions and have unique access to their wealth of scientific and academic resources as well as to the skills and expertise of professionals, individuals with disabilities and families. Each program serves as a bridge between the university and the community, bringing the resources of the university and community together and enriching both. No one member has the totality of expertise and wisdom to address all important national priorities, but the network of interrelated organizations harnesses its aggregate strengths to address a wide range of service, research, and policy issues. AAUAP members have an obligation to implement national disability policy and work to change both higher education and the communities they serve.

AAUAP members are a collection of organizations with unique strengths in many areas that affect the lives of people with disabilities and special health needs. For some members, these strengths range from training professional leaders, individuals with disabilities, and parents in fields as diverse as primary health care to early education to model employment programs to many others too numerous to list. Other members excel in exemplary research from basic to applied while still others provide exemplary services to children, adults and families. AAUAP members, located in major research universities in all states and territories, have the ability to work in the community, across state, federal and local agencies, using the platform and intellectual integrity of the university to solve complex problems. AAUAP members are in a unique position to translate findings from research into practice in all fields affecting the lives of children and adults with disabilities and special health needs and their families. Without high quality, interdisciplinary training, services, research and demonstration of how theory can be translated into practice, the promise of a meaningful life in the community is a promise only partially fulfilled.

Statement of Values

AAUAP values and relies upon the participation of both people with disabilities and family members and a culturally diverse membership in its governance and its programs. AAUAP strives to have their vision, expertise, and needs be the driving force in the design and operation of its programs and services, along with the policy guidelines outlined in contemporary federal disability legislation.

Fulfilling our Mission

AAUAP fulfills its mission and implements its vision by using the power of network organizations and individuals to promote and demonstrate improvements in:

AAUAP further strengthens and represents the network in Washington, D.C. through:

AAUAP, through its network of member programs, can demonstrate how institutions of higher education can put into action effective programs from diverse federal and state funding sources to best support children and adults with disabilities and special health needs and their families. By representing its membership, AAUAP contributes to the national effort of improving the lives of children and adults with disabilities and special health needs and their families, while utilizing the resources of the network to enhance each member's ability to thrive in an ever-changing higher education environment.

Membership and Structure

AAUAP is a membership organization comprised of university-based entities focused on improving the lives of children and adults with disabilities and special health needs, their families and communities. Membership in AAUAP is open to University Affiliated Programs funded by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities; Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Programs funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau; and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institutes of Health; and related organizations who share our mission, vision, values and relationship to higher education. AAUAP is governed by a Board of Directors, elected by member organizations, as well as representation from individuals with disabilities and family members. Through the use of Councils from the membership, AAUAP works to include and value diverse perspectives in its governance. The Board creates an Annual Plan each year to guide its organizational and programmatic priorities.

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Last updated 08/23/2000.