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Mission and History

NCD’s Mission and History


NCD’s mission is to be a trusted advisor, in collaboration with people with disabilities to:

  • The President
  • The Congress
  • Federal entities
  • State, tribal communities, and local governments; and
  • Other entities and organizations

NCD fulfills its advisory roles regarding disability policies, programs, procedures, and practices that enhance equal opportunity by:

  • Convening stakeholders to acquire timely and relevant input for recommendations and action steps
  • Gathering and analyzing data and other information
  • Engaging and influencing current debates and agendas
  • Identifying and formulating solutions to emerging and long-standing challenges; and
  • Providing tools to facilitate effective implementation


NCD has a proud history. First established as a small advisory Council within the Department of Education in 1978, NCD was transformed into an independent agency in 1984 and charged with reviewing federal disability programs and policies. In 1986, NCD recommended enactment of an Americans with Disabilities Act, and then drafted the first version of the bill introduce in the House and Senate in 1988.

Since enactment of the ADA in 1990, NCD has continued to play a leading role in analyzing the needs of people with disabilities. 

A more comprehensive history of the agency is detailed in NCD’s 1997 publication titled Equality of Opportunity: The Making of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Authorizing Statute

NCD was statutorily created in 1978 through amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 780 et seq.). The authorizing statute specifies the agency’s duties, administrative powers, appropriations, and parameters regarding NCD Council and staff. The statute was amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (P.L. 113-128) in 2014.

An official website of the National Council on Disability