Institute on Disability and Human Development

A leader in disability education, research and service

The Institute on Disability and Human Development (IDHD) is dedicated to promoting the independence, productivity, and inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of society. We realize our mission through academic programs, clinical services, research centers, and community programs.

We conduct research and disseminate information about disability to academicians, policymakers, businesses, government agencies, service providers, and the general public. We also provide an extensive array of clinical and community service activities, and offer interdisciplinary pre-service training.

The Institute on Disability and Human Development is a national leader in four areas:

  • Interdisciplinary academic training
  • Community service
  • Research and
  • Information dissemination

… all related to people with disabilities

We emphasize the values of cultural diversity, consumer choice, and self-determination across the lifespan in all of our activities.

Our collaborative network

Elbert Lott, Consumer Advisory Committee Member, at the Disability Pride Parade

Recognized for Excellence

We are the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service (UCEDD) for Illinois. This makes us part of a national network of 67 UCEDDs (there’s at least one in every U.S. state and territory).

We work collaboratively with our sister agencies, the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities and Equip for Equality, the State Protection and Advocacy Agency, to make up the Illinois Developmental Disabilities Network.


Learn about our collaborative network

What is a UCEDD?

Entities now known as UCEDDs were initially created over four decades ago with the enactment of Public Law 88-164 (1963) to serve people with developmental disabilities. Currently authorized under the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 (the DD Act), UCEDDs are now a resource for Americans with a wide range of disabilities. They receive their core funding from the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Each UCEDD is affiliated with a major research university and serves as a resource for all people in the areas of education, research, and service relative to the needs of people with developmental disabilities. Their programs are part of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), a membership organization that supports and promotes a national network of university-based interdisciplinary programs.

What makes us unique?

Two smiling students sitting at a classroom table

We're one of the only UCEDDs that is also an academic department

We offer most of our pre-service training activities through the Department of Disability and Human Development (DHD). DHD’s PhD in disability studies is the first of its kind in the nation and one of only a few in the world.  DHD is also home to the federally-designated Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program for the State of Illinois.

Learn more about DHD

IDHD/LEND Advisory Committee

Our advisory committee is comprised of individuals with disabilites, family members, and partner organizations in Illinois.  The IDHD/LEND advisory committee provides information, feedback, and advice to our staff on how to advance the lives of people with disabilities in the state through their work.

Individual and family advocates

  • Tara Ahern
  • Jessica Buettner
  • Lisa Cesal
  • Marty Fox
  • Michael Grice
  • Alba Gharib
  • Nora Handler
  • Stevie Hopkins
  • Laurie Jerue
  • Elbert Lott
  • Dorelia Rivera
  • Leanne Roth
  • Cathy Saunders
  • Vincent Smith
  • Monica Thorns

Organizational representatives