Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities

Written by Holli Cawthorne on 3/02/2022

Did you know that there are self-advocate leaders shaping services and supports for persons with developmental disabilities in Alabama?

The Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities- ACDD for short, is a leadership board comprised of members who are self-advocates and family members of self-advocates, along with a representative from stakeholder State Agencies (like Medicaid, Alabama Departments of Rehabilitation Services, Mental Health, Education, Senior Services, Public Health, and Early Childhood Education to name a few). These leaders, who are appointed by the Governor of Alabama, meet to discuss topics like what needs there are in Alabama, how to work together to make changes to address these needs, remove barriers, improve services, and raise awareness of topics important to persons with developmental disabilities.

How does ACDD do all this?

ACDD receives federal funding to provide financial assistance to projects that make improvements in the areas of concern for persons with developmental disabilities in Alabama. ACDD announces opportunities for these projects throughout the year in the form of requests for proposals (like grant applications), giving persons and agencies the opportunity to share their ideas with ACDD. ACDD staff then provides support to selected projects through technical assistance to maximize success and sustainability. Additionally, ACDD board members serve in their own communities as members of community groups and boards to provide advocacy in local areas. ACDD staff participate in collaborations with various stakeholders to participate in their planning and advisory boards. ACDD provides financial support to self-advocates and family members to attend conferences and trainings through its Consumer Involvement Fund (CIF), which means ACDD will reimburse registration and various travel expenses so Alabamians can become more aware of issues and supports related to developmental disabilities. Finally, ACDD provides information and referral to Alabamians who request information about various resources via its toll-free phone number, email, and/or through its website/social media accounts. To learn more about the Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities, please visit

Fun Facts:

Every state in the United States has a developmental disabilities council, so let friends and family living in other states know to keep an eye out for theirs.

Every state in the United States has a law firm for persons with developmental disabilities to ensure the rights of persons with developmental disabilities are upheld. These are called Protection and Advocacy (P&A) agencies which are charged with empowering, advocating, and protecting persons with developmental disabilities. The Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP) is the P&A in Alabama.

Every state in the United States has a university responsible for researching topics specific to developmental disabilities. These are called University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) which address issues, find solutions, and advance research related to the needs of persons with developmental disabilities. The University of Alabama Birmingham’s Civitan-Sparks Clinic is the UCEDD in Alabama.

ACDD, ADAP, and UAB Civitan-Sparks make up Alabama’s Developmental Disabilities Network Partners, which are all overseen by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living.

Why does ACDD support the Alabama ABLE Savings Plan?

The Alabama ABLE Savings Plan is a phenomenal resource that allows persons with developmental disabilities to acquire financial assets without being penalized of their governmental benefits. These benefits assist with valuable supports like residential services, medical services, personal assistance, and many others. Rather than liquidating any savings or being unable to acquire any assets, persons with disabilities can utilize an ABLE savings account to deposit and protect assets, allowing for savings of ‘big ticket’ items like accessible vehicles, service animals, college funds, and others. In addition, family members and friends are able to support their loved ones by gifting into a person’s ABLE account without tax penalty. By having the Alabama ABLE Savings Plan, Alabamians with disabilities have a financial tool specific to their needs, just like financial tools utilized by Alabamians without disabilities. Please consider utilizing the Alabama ABLE Savings Plan to assist with your needs- and be sure to tell your friends about it!

Holli Cawthorne
Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities Contracts Manager