Virginia Center

Virginia Center

The Partnership for People with Disabilities

The Partnership for People with Disabilities, formerly known as the Virginia Institute for Developmental Disabilities (VIDD), is recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD), as a university center for excellence in developmental disabilities. Founded in 1985 under the leadership of Dr. Howard Garner with fewer than five staff at Virginia Commonwealth University; and subsequently developed over the last 20 years by Dr. Fred Orelove, the Partnership today is home to more than 20 federal and state programs, staffed by more than 80 professionals, family members, people with disabilities, and university students supporting individuals with disabilities and their families. The Partnership maintains an interdisciplinary approach to all of its activities, which allows it to explore a wide spectrum of professional services and community interests as it seeks to expand opportunities to individuals with disabilities.

In our efforts to create communities where all people live, work, and play together with choices and independence, we rely on our partners which include numerous disability service providers, K-12 schools and school divisions, universities and colleges, professional organizations, state and local agencies. Our ADD-funded partners in the “Developmental Disabilities Network” include the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities (Virginia’s Developmental Disabilities Council) and Virginia Office of Protection and Advocacy (Virginia’s Protection and Advocacy system). In collaboration with our partners, we are able to accomplish what no one agency or individual could ever hope to accomplish alone.

No history of the Partnership would be complete without a special tribute to our advisory council members, advocacy groups, parents and parent organizations, individuals with disabilities and family members, who are at the core of this exciting journey toward self-determination and community inclusion for persons with disabilities.

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Virginia Center Activities

Early Intervention and Education

The Partnership for People with Disabilities is recognized throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia for its strong programs supporting families, individuals, and service providers in the Early Intervention/Education arena. All children, including those with disabilities, deserve the supports they need to excel in their homes, schools, and communities. To foster this level of success, the Partnership is working to equip family members, health care providers, preschool teachers, child care providers, and others serving who serve infants and young children and their families with the awareness, knowledge, and skills through technical assistance and training needed to make a difference in their lives. Read more


All children benefit from receiving early and consistent services and supports that meet their developmental needs in a welcoming, inclusive environment. This is particularly true of health care. Children and adults with disabilities are at risk for having special health care needs that often are not adequately addressed by health care professionals. The Partnership for People with Disabilities is committed to implementing projects and activities that support the training of health care and related professionals and paraprofessionals in interdisciplinary settings. Our goal is to reduce the disparities that families and people with disabilities experience when accessing health care and related services.  Key program areas focus on issues of health promotion, health professionals as education team members, justice for underrepresented populations, and maltreatment of people with disabilities. All activities are weighted toward creating environments where children and their families can learn, grow, and experience fulfilling lives in supportive communities. Read more

Family and Individual Involvement and Support

It is a strategic goal of the Partnership for People with Disabilities to promote community acceptance and support for individuals with disabilities and their families. Our work is guided by the principles of self determination and person-centered practices. The Partnership is committed to supporting individuals in making their voices heard.

Through self-advocacy activities at the Partnership, youth and adults with disabilities have information and support to speak for themselves and be leaders in their home communities and in state-level activities. The Partnership is committed to helping agencies and organizations deliver person-centered and user-friendly services and supports in neighborhoods and communities.

The Partnership works with parents and family members of individuals with disabilities, and with the professionals who support them, acknowledging and embracing the family’s central role in improving the lives of individuals with disabilities. The Partnership supports families in their efforts to increase their skills as decision-makers, mentors, and leaders. Read more