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Tennessee Developmental Disabilities Network

These four statewide organizations in Tennessee partner with one another and with individuals with developmental disabilities and family members to ensure that they receive the services and supports they need—and jointly they take part in planning those services. Together we are working to promote principles of

  • Independence
  • Inclusion
  • Integration
  • Productivity
  • Self-Determination

The federal Developmental Disabilities Act creates State Councils, Protection and Advocacy Systems, and University Centers for Excellence in every state and U.S. territory. The Act guides each agency’s activities and promotes efforts to work collaboratively on statewide issues. The four Tennessee Network members are part of this national network, which is supported by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, U.S. Health and Human Services.

Developmental Disability

A developmental disability is a condition that is significant and ongoing, begins before age 22, and substantially limits functioning in daily activities of living. Examples include autism, brain or spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, intellectual disabilities, Prader-Willi syndrome, spina bifida, and Williams syndrome. There are approximately 4.5 million individuals with developmental disabilities in the United States. The Network also serves persons with all types of disabilities, including those whose disabilities occur after age 22.

How the Network Works Together

The principles of the Developmental Disabilities Act unite our organizations as a network. The Developmental Disabilities Act states that, with support, individuals with developmental disabilities can:

  • Make informed choices and decisions about their lives
  • Live in homes and communities where they can exercise their rights as citizens
  • Pursue meaningful and productive lives
  • Contribute to their families, communities, states, and nation
  • Have friendships and relationships with other persons
  • Live free of abuse, neglect, financial and sexual exploitation, and violations of their legal and human rights
  • Achieve full integration and inclusion in society, in an individualized manner, consistent with the unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, and capabilities of each individual.

The agencies of the Tennessee Developmental Disabilities Network work independently and together to achieve these goals for Tennesseans with developmental disabilities and their families. We accomplish more by working collectively. We have joined together to improve transition services in Tennessee for students with disabilities in special education, to promote postsecondary education opportunities for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, to improve employment of adults with disabilities, and to support self-advocates.

All Tennessee Developmental Disabilities Network partners are active on social media. Search for us on Facebook and Twitter.

National Network 

This national network of State Councils, Protection and Advocacy, and University Centers for Excellence is supported by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, U.S. Health and Human Services.