Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
October 30, 2000


Today, I am pleased to sign into law S. 1809, the "Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000." This legislation reauthorizes programs that support people with developmental disabilities and helps them achieve their maximum potential through increased self-determination, independence, productivity, and integration in all facets of life. The Act also adds important new authority to provide services and activities for families of individuals with developmental disabilities and the dedicated workers who assist them.

Since 1963, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act has made a crucial difference in the lives and futures of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Through this Act, Federal funds support the development and operation of State Councils, Protection and Advocacy Systems, University Centers (formerly known as university affiliated programs), and projects of national significance. This crucial investment has provided the structure to assist people with developmental disabilities to pursue meaningful and productive lives. These programs have made community living possible for individuals across our Nation with significant disabilities. The Act has led to further Federal legislation in support of all people with disabilities. Therefore, it is only fitting that I am signing this legislation in the same year as the 25th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the 10th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

When the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act was first conceived by President Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and Dr. Robert Cooke, the primary emphasis was on the advancement of scientific understanding, professional education, and ensuring access to, and safety of, institutional facilities. Later changes, as conceived by Dr. Elizabeth Boggs, Dr. Elsie Helsel, and others, focused on efforts of families, professionals, and State agencies to improve supports for all people with developmental disabilities. Today, the programs emphasize fundamental system change, including legal services and advocacy and capacity-building at the State and local levels. The focus is on listening to people with developmental disabilities as self-advocates, and helping people with develop-mental disabilities and their families obtain the information, assistive technology, and supports they need to make more informed choices about how and where to live. An important aspect of today's work is to ensure self-determination and access to supports for historically unserved and underserved populations across the Nation. To ensure continued progress in these areas, S. 1809 now includes performance-based accountability requirements.

The programs carried out through this Act improve and expand opportunities for individuals with developmental dis-abilities and their families. My Administration is committed to working with Indian Tribes on a government-to-government basis to address issues of shared concern, and I encourage the next Administration and Congress to explore ways for this legislation to provide appropriate roles for Indian Tribes and Native Americans pursuant to this legislation.

Investments in the freedom and the future of Americans with significant, lifelong disabilities are important investments in the well-being of our Nation. For these reasons, I am pleased to sign the "Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000."


October 30, 2000.