Our History

The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University is one of the sixty-seven University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service funded by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Established in 1974, the Institute has mirrored the changes in the field of developmental disabilities, evolving into a model of self-determination and individualized supports in the community.

During its early history the Institute provided extensive technical assistance and training to professionals in the field and later became nationally recognized for advocacy and research efforts centered on the closure of the Pennhurst Center. In the 1980's, the Institute began developing and evaluating support models for Pennsylvanians with disabilities and their families.


Now located within the College of Education and Human Development at Temple University, the Institute is a vibrant, diverse organization with more than 40 staff members, including students and is considered a national leader in leadership development, assistive technology, Disability Studies, justice for people with disabilities, policy analysis and inclusive education.

Much of our success in reaching the community and our constituents can be attributed to our close partnerships with statewide advocacy and self-advocacy groups, centers for independent living, Pennsylvania's Developmental Disabilities Council, Disability Rights Pennsylvania, state government, specialized and generic service providers, the criminal justice system, and universities throughout Pennsylvania.

The scope of work and dedication to our constituents continues to grow, touching more people with disabilities, families, communities, students, educators, employers and policy makers. Our more than 20 programs have an impact on people's lives throughout Pennsylvania, nationally and internationally.

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