University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD)


The mission of the UCEDD is to improve the quality of life for people across the entire life span by promoting community inclusion, community membership, independence, productivity, and social participation. This mission is founded on the beliefs that:

  • All people, including those with developmental disabilities, deserve the love and nurturing unique to their own families.
  • People with developmental disabilities have the right to live independently in their communities, work productively for fair compensation in regular workplaces, and participate fully in community activities.

In brief, that people with developmental disabilities deserve full inclusion in their communities – and the community deserves their inclusion as well.

What is a UCEDD?

The University of Missouri-Kansas City Institute for Human Development (UMKC-IHD) houses the federally designated University Center for Excellence, Education, Research and Service (UCE) in Developmental Disabilities for the state of Missouri. Authorized under the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (Public Law 106-402), the IHD is part of a network of sixty-seven university-based centers in every state and territory of the United States. The Association for University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) houses the UCE network.

Sixty-seven UCEDDs in every state and territory are located in a university setting. Centers are in a unique position to facilitate the flow of disability-related information between community and university. Centers work with people with disabilities, members of their families, state and local government agencies, and community providers in projects that provide training, technical assistance, service, research, and information sharing, with a focus on building the capacity of communities to sustain all their citizens. Centers have played key roles in every major disability initiative over the past four decades. Many issues, such as early intervention, health care, community-based services, inclusive and meaningful education, transition from school to work, employment, housing, assistive technology, and transportation have been directly benefited by the services, research, and training provided by UCEDDs.

The IHD-UCE exemplifies the University of Missouri – Kansas City’s goals of academic excellence and helping people reach their potential in the communities where they live.

Who does it serve?

The UCE primarily serves people with developmental disabilities and their families. Developmental disability, as defined by the Federal government, means a severe, chronic disability of a person which:

  1. is attributable to a mental or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments;
  2. is manifested before the person attains age twenty-two;
  3. is likely to continue indefinitely;
  4. results in substantial functional limitations in three or more of the following areas of major life activity: self-care, receptive and expressive language, learning, mobility, self-direction, capacity for independent living or economic self-sufficiency; and
  5. reflects the person’s need for a combination of special, interdisciplinary, or generic care, treatment, or other services which are of lifelong or extended duration and are individually planned and coordinated.

The UCE does not, however, serve the above population exclusively. We offer support to all people with disabilities and their families. Our goal is to promote the independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion of individuals with disabilities into communities of their choice.

What does it do?

Working with local, state, and national organizations, the UCE supports people with developmental disabilities by building programs and activities designed to promote self-determination and independence, be productive, and be integrated and included in all facets of community life.

From Birth: The UCE applies resources for the support of families and professionals who work together to meet the needs of infants, children, and teens with special needs.

Through Adulthood: The UCE provides training and technical assistance to people and systems working to enhance the community integration, inclusion, independence, and productivity of adults with disabilities.

And Into Maturity: The UCE guides the development of exemplary systems and services designed to enhance the lives of aging people with developmental disabilities.