History of Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology

In the mid to late 1970s, a group of psychologists with disabilities convened at several annual conventions. The discussions and efforts of this informal group focused on issues of accessibility and advocacy. Their work prompted the development of a task force on psychology and handicaps within APA. This task force eventually recommended the formation of the Committee on Disabilities and Handicaps (CDH), which met for the first time in 1985.

The current incarnation of the Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology (as CDH was later renamed) can be characterized as the result of three areas of influence:

  1. The influence of a constituency of APA members who were themselves disabled;

  2. The influence of leaders in the association who recognized the importance of formalizing a body to deal with disability issues as they impacted academics, science, research, and policy; and

  3. The growing awareness and concern in general within this country for disability issues.

The activities of this Committee have reflected these diverse influences over the years. Some of the Committee's accomplishments include:

  1. The establishment of a resource room for people with disabilities at the APA convention;

  2. The publication of guidelines on physical and social accessibility for persons with disabilities;

  3. A survey examining barriers to therapeutic services by persons with disabilities (final report pending);

  4. The publication of the Americans with Disabilities Act and How It Impacts Psychologists; and

  5. A great deal of internal and external consultation on matters pertaining to disability.

The Committee sees its charge as bringing a disability perspective to each and every internal and external aspect the APA. This broad agenda is reflected in its mission statement.