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About the Council

The Council is a state agency established to improve disability policies and practice, educate policymakers and the public, and build community collaboration to create lasting, positive change for Tennesseans with disabilities and their families.

Our work is informed by a diverse group of citizens directly experiencing disability, appointed as Council representatives from every region of the state. Also, policymakers from state agencies that oversee Tennessee’s disability programs and experts from university centers in the area of developmental disabilities are members of the Council.

We are the only state agency specifically tasked with looking at how all the pieces of our disability system work together, identifying areas of need and bringing different parts of government and outside groups together to tackle challenges and improve state services. 

The Council is established by the federal Developmental Disabilities Act and by Tennessee Executive Order 50.

Our focus is broad, covering the lifespan for Tennesseans with intellectual and other types of developmental disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and other conditions that are life-long and require support services.   

Read this TennesseeWorks blog all about the Council, our role in TN and our impact over time.

Read the Spanish language version of the Developmental Disabilities Act.

Council Executive Director - Role, Work of the Council

What are developmental disabilities?

The Council estimates that over 158,000 Tennesseans have developmental disabilities, based on the national data on prevalence rate of 2.3% (Source: "30 Years of Community Living", p. 6; U.S. Administration on Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2021).

A developmental disability, according to the Developmental Disabilities Act, is defined as a severe, chronic disability which originated at birth or during childhood, is expected to continue indefinitely, and substantially restricts the individual’s functioning in several major life activities. Examples include but are not limited to autism, traumatic brain injury, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, spina bifida and Down syndrome.

This project was supported in part by grant number 2101TNSCDD from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.