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Family and Social Services Administration

Family and Social Services Administration

DDRS Home > Developmental Disability (BDDS) > General Information General Information

Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services (BDDS)

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This section provides information about resources, supports, and terms which are not specific to employment or residential services.

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Action Alert

An electronic publication produced through the Governmental Affairs Office of The Arc of the United States and The Arc of Indiana, alerting families, professionals, and other advocates regarding legislative developments. Includes a summary of the proposed legislation, its potential impact on people with disabilities (particularly developmental disabilities), and current status. To be added to this electronic list serve, go to:

(The) Arc

The Arc of the United States and The Arc of Indiana advocate for the rights and full participation of all children and adults with developmental disabilities. Local chapters were formed throughout the United States, beginning in the 1950's, by parents of individuals with developmental disabilities, to provide support for families, and to advocate for and establish services for their children. The Arc remains a strong source of advocacy on the national, state, and local level for adults and children with developmental disabilities, or who are at risk. Many local Arcs, including most in Indiana, also provide direct services (employment and/or residential services for adults, and/or early intervention for children below school age.) The Arc offers numerous publications of interest to families and advocates, as well as information on guardianship and trusts for individuals with disabilities.

The Arc of the U.S.
101 Wayne Avenue, Suite 650
Silver Spring, MD 20910

The Arc of Indiana
107 N. Pennsylvania St., Suite 300
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Assistive Technology Device or Assistive Device
Any item or piece of equipment that helps people move, work, study, or play better and/or easier. Products that make life easier for people with disabilities.
Assistive Technology Services
Any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, purchase, or use of an assistive technology device.


Case Manager (aka Private Case Manager)
A case manager assists individuals in obtaining the supports they need to live as independently as possible in their community, by finding and coordinating the available resources and services to meet the person's needs. Case managers also help to plan, monitor and evaluate the person's services, and assist with the process and necessary paperwork. This service coordination, or case management, is often provided by the direct services agency, but may also be provided by the person's family or an advocate, or by a private case manager (such as with Medicaid Waiver services).

A case management or service coordination system that is independent of the provider(s) of services may be helpful to the individual in advocating for his or her preferences and needs. In selecting a case manager, individuals and families should consider service coordinators who are well-trained, who know the community and the individuals and families they serve, who respect the interests and preferences of the individual and are committed to representing them, who provide timely and reliable information, who follow through, and who coordinate effectively with service providers. The person served (or their family, if they are guardian, or if the individual is a minor) maintains the ultimate power for decision-making.

Center for Disability Information & Referral (CeDir)
A resource center of the Institute for the Study of Developmental Disabilities. Provides access to information to empower people with disabilities and their families to advocate for better services and quality of life, to foster best practices, and to inform decision-makers about current trends and policies. Services include a lending library; reference collection; web site; development of videos, publications, and bibliographies; training and technical assistance.


College and Post-Secondary Services
Many Indiana colleges, universities and vocational schools offer specific services and supports for students with disabilities. A listing of 65 educational institutions having such services has been compiled by INSOURCE (See Indiana Resource Center for Families with Special Needs), at the request of the Indiana Department of Education, Division of Special Education. Those responding to the survey reported a wide range of student support services available, such as:

Academic tutoring
Accessible campuses
Adapted physical education
Alternative testing
Assistive technologies
Braille and large print
Campus organizations for students with disabilities
Computer aided instruction
Extended test time
Kurzweil reading machines
Note takers
Oral testing
Orientation and mobility assistance
Peer support group
Peer tutoring
Registration assistance
Remedial classes
Special parking
Tape recorder loan
Taped textbooks
Testing accommodations
Transcription services
Voice activated computers

It is important to note that this list is a compilation of the reported services, and that no single educational institution reported having all of the above available. Some services are free and others are provided at a cost to the student. Financial arrangements should be discussed prior to enrollment.

High school students with disabilities interested in attending college may also be eligible for accommodations when taking the SAT. (See SAT Testing)

Additional resources for students with disabilities in higher education:

Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD)
P.O. Box 21192
Columbus, OH 43221-0192

Disabled Student Services in Higher Education listserve:


Community Participation
The aspect of Habilitation Training which emphasizes goal-centered activities to assist a person to develop and maintain lasting community connections. Outcomes might included participation in a community class, such as for recreation or leisure; development of relationships which foster community connections; membership in a civic or community organization; etc.

Activities are designed to assist an individual in accessing and participating in services or activities in the community, and may include actively facilitating relationships in the community; teaching and/or assisting in the development of skills to become more proficient at the desired community activity; observation of the individual in community settings; and other related activities that directly lead to successful establishment of meaningful and lasting community connections and membership. All activities are related to the establishment of community inclusion, friendships, and related quality of life issues.

These services are coordinated and funded by the Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services (BDDS).


Developmental Disability
A physical or mental impairment (other than a sole diagnosis of mental illness) that originates before age 22, is expected to continue indefinitely, requires an intensive interdisciplinary plan of habilitative services leading to greater functional independence, and includes substantial limitations in at least three of the following areas requiring intervention:
  • Self-care;
  • Understanding and use of language;
  • Learning;
  • Mobility;
  • Self-direction;
  • Capacity for independent living.
Diagnostics and Evaluation (D & E)
A series of evaluations and assessments conducted prior to a residential placement and annually thereafter, to determine initial and continuing eligibility for residential services. Funded by Medicaid and/or Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services (BDDS).

Division of Disability & Rehabilitative Services (DDRS)
A division within the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, responsible for coordinating and funding services for Indiana's citizens who have disabilities.

The web site below is part of the "Official Web Site of the State of Indiana", which includes a keyword search, a guestbook, a government offices index, and agency homepages. The Division of Disability & Rehabilitative Services (DDRS) web site includes the Mission of DDRS, and lists the various bureaus and offices, including:

Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services (BDDS)
Bureau of Child Services (First Steps)
Bureau of Rehabilitative Services -- Vocational Rehabilitation services (VR), Blind and Visually Impaired Services (BVIS), Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DHHS)
Bureau of Quality Improvement Services (BQIS)
Disability Determination Bureau 

402 W. Washington St. #W-451 
P. O. Box 7083
Indianapolis, IN 46207-7083

Durable Power of Attorney
An alternative to guardianship. Allows the appointed person to make decisions for an individual, which may include handling bank accounts, buying and selling property, and making health care decisions, among others. (See Guardianship)

(Indiana) Governor's Council for People with Disabilities
An independent state agency whose members are appointed by the Governor, and whose mission is to promote public policy and assist in bringing about change to increase the independence, productivity, and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society. The council is consumer-driven and is charged with determining how the public and private service delivery systems can be most responsive to people with disabilities. The Council also maintains a listing of state and national disability resources and organizations, and coordinates an annual Disabilities Awareness Month campaign during March of each year.

150 West Market Street, Suite 628
Indianapolis, IN 46204
317-232-7771 TTY

Guardianship is an important consideration when young adults with developmental disabilities reach age 18. It is important for parents to realize that under the law everyone is considered to be an emancipated adult (their own legal guardian) at age 18, regardless of their disability. If the parent believes it is necessary for them to gain or maintain guardianship of their adult child after the age of 18, this can only be done through a court proceeding, which may be lengthy and expensive.

Any action to establish guardianship of an adult with a disability must be filed in the probate court of the county of residence of the person for whom guardianship is being sought. Filing for guardianship is generally done with the assistance of an attorney, and includes a petition, followed by a hearing to prove that the person is incapacitated (unable to serve as his or her own guardian).

Guardianship by another person by definition restricts that individual's rights and freedoms as a citizen, and should therefore not be entered into without serious consideration, including exploring alternatives which may better suit the individual's needs while still providing legal protection. (See Representative Payee, Health Care Representative, Specific Power of Attorney, and Durable Power of Attorney.)

An attorney should be consulted to determine which, if any, alternatives may be appropriate for the individual. Additional information is available through The Arc of Indiana (See Arc) and through:

Indiana State Bar Association
230 East Ohio Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204


Habilitation Training
Planned, goal-centered activities designed to assist individuals with developmental disabilities to:

(1) participate more fully and effectively in all phases of daily living, especially in integrated settings;
(2) exercise more control of their lives through improvement of independent living skills; and/or
(3) access and be connected with community services and activities.

Habilitation services may be provided on an individual basis or in a group. Goal-oriented training activities include, but are not limited to:

Activities of daily living;
Mobility; Basic nutrition;
Recreation and leisure;
Social and interpersonal skills;
Academic skills;
Motor and perceptual skills;
Communication skills;
Decision-making and self-advocacy skills;
Prevocational skills (not vocational services);
Assistance with developing community connections. (See Community Participation)

These services are coordinated and funded by the Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services (BDDS).

Health Care Representative
An alternative to guardianship. A person who is authorized to make decisions regarding health care for an individual who is unable to do so. (See Guardianship)


Indiana Assistive Technology Act (INDATA)

Project at Easter Seals Crossroads provides information and access to assistive technology, at no charge, for Hoosiers with disabilities. These statewide services are derived through the Indiana Assistive Technology Act (INDATA) state/federal grant and include: device demonstrations, device loans, recycled computers, reutilized
assistive technology equipment, alternative financing resources, and educational trainings
and conferences.

4740 Kingsway Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46205
317-466-2013 Local
1-888-466-1314 Toll free
317-466-2000 Fax

Indiana Institute on Disability and Community IICC)

The university-affiliated program of Indiana (Indiana University, Bloomington), serving Indiana through training and research. Among its purposes is to empower people with disabilities and their families to advocate for better services and quality of life. The Institute is dedicated to the promotion and maintenance of a seamless system of inclusionary services for individuals with disabilities across the life span. Institute activities include interdisciplinary training, reference information, applied research, and technical assistance demonstrating inclusive practices and exemplary community services.

IICC offers assistance through the following centers:
Early Childhood Center
Center on Education and Lifelong Learning
Center on Community Living and Careers
Center on Aging and Community
Center for Planning and Policy Studies
Indiana Resource Center for Autism
Center for Disability Information and Referral

For information from any of the centers, contact:

Indiana Institute on Disability and Community

Indiana University
1905 North Range Road
Bloomington, IN 47408-9801
812-855-9396 TT
Fax 812-855-9630

Indiana Parent Information Network (IPIN)
Provides information, education, and peer support to families of individuals with special needs. Parents help other parents locate resources to answer questions about disabilities, and related laws and services. Also available through IPIN is a directory of information and support groups in Indiana for people with disabilities and chronic illness and their families.

4755 Kingsway Drive, Suite 105
Indianapolis, IN 46205
317-257-8683 Voice/TDD
Fax 317-251-7488

Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services (IPAS)
A federally funded state agency, independent from all other state agencies and service providers, created to assure advocacy and legal assistance, and to promote the rights and interests of individuals with disabilities. IPAS responds to requests for assistance, to protect and advocate for the human, legal and civil rights of people with disabilities through negotiation, litigation, and other remedies.

4701 N. Keystone, Suite 222
Indianapolis, IN 46205
317-722-5563 TTY
1-800-838-1131 TTY
Fax (317) 722-5564

Indiana Resource Center for Families with Special Needs (INSOURCE)
Special education resource center. Offers information, training, and a network of regional parent resources who provide support for families during meetings at their child's school.

INSOURCE publishes a "Parent Packet" online, which provides detailed information about special education and disability laws, the special education process, advice for families on handling this process, keeping records, communication and relationships with teachers and school officials, and dealing with conflict. Includes a listing of acronyms and abbreviations pertaining to special education, terms and definitions.

Also available through INSOURCE is a listing of 65 Indiana colleges, universities and vocational schools offering specific services and supports for students with disabilities, compiled at the request of the Indiana Department of Education, Division of Special Education. (See Colleges)

809 North Michigan Street
South Bend, IN 46601-1036
1-800-332-4433 Voice/TDD
Fax 219-234-7279
web site:

Indiana Transition Initiative (ITI)
An initiative of the Institute for the Study of Developmental Disabilities. The purpose of ITI is to improve the quality and availability of transition services for all young adults with disabilities, to undertake the needed changes in the structure of state and local systems, and to ensure the development and implementation of a statewide comprehensive system of transition services and supports which will enable students to make a successful transition from school to adult life.


Indices: General Disability Information (online)
A listing of 24 disability-related organizations and web sites that are not specific to a particular disability diagnosis. Format is inviting and easy to use. Includes descriptions of the various web sites and identifies those which emphasize simplicity and are user friendly.



Mental Health Net -- Developmental Disability Resources (online)
Comprehensive listing of developmental and genetic disorder information and self-help resources. Some resources are general, others are specific to a particular disability, ranging from Down Syndrome and Fragile X to emotional disorders and mental illnesses. Includes chat-lines for individuals with disabilities and families, general support and information, parent question-answer columns, real life stories, and action alerts. Other topics include sibling relationships, self-advocacy, homework help, and special health needs. Easy to use format, including ratings for each web resource listed (one rating by Mental Health Net and the other a visitors' or readers' rating showing a symbol for "thumbs up" or "thumbs down", and the number of visitors voting. A user-friendly and valuable resource.



National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY)
Resource and information center. Publishes listings of national toll-free numbers related to disability issues, and other national disability resources, including national organizations and information clearinghouses.

P.O. Box 1492
Washington, DC 20013-1492
703-893-8614 (TDD)

National Organization on Disability (NOD)
A national organization promoting the full participation of people with disabilities in society through community partnerships.



Partnerships for Assistive Technology with Indiana Schools (PATINS)
A statewide systems change project designed to impact the organizational capacity of public schools and the capability of school staff in the area of assistive technology devices and services. The mission of PATINS is to provide systematic training and access to adaptations and technology tools which enable students to have the skills to control and direct their own lives. For information on project activities or how to access the nearest PATINS regional site, contact:

Department of Education
Division of Special Education
251 East Ohio Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Person-Centered Planning or Personal Futures Planning
A tool to assist individuals in defining a vision of what they would like their future to hold. By focusing on the person's own hopes and dreams, a plan can be developed and recorded which provides a map for making positive changes in that person's life. Person-centered planning can increase the likelihood that people with disabilities will increase control over their own lives, be part of community life, develop relationships, acquire increasingly positive roles in their communities, and develop competencies to help them accomplish these roles. (Also see EMPLOYMENT: Personal Profile or Person-Centered Assessment)
Private Case Manager (see Case Manager)


Representative Payee
An alternative to guardianship. The payee is authorized by the Social Security office to receive and manage money from a federal program for a person who is unable to do so. (See Guardianship)


SAT Testing
High school students with disabilities may be eligible for accommodations when they take the SAT tests for college admission, if they:

(1) Have a disability for which accommodations are necessary;
(2) Have documentation on file at school (an IEP or Section 504 plan or evaluation); and
(3) Are receiving accommodations for classroom testing and/or standardized tests at their schools.

If a student is not currently eligible for testing accommodations at school, he or she may still be eligible for accommodations for taking the SAT. These exceptions may be requested by submitting an evaluation by a qualified professional.

SAT testing accommodations may include:

Extended testing time;
Interpreter (sign language or oral);
Large block answer sheets;
Magnifying device, large type, or Braille tests;
Reader assistance, to dictate the questions;
Recorder assistance, to mark the answer sheet;

For more information or to arrange assistance, contact:

SAT Services for Students with Disabilities
The College Board
P.O. Box 6226
Princeton, NJ 08541-6226

Social Security Benefits
Many individuals with disabilities rely on some form of Social Security benefits. For information regarding the assistance available, how to access it, and work incentives related to Social Security benefits, contact the local Social Security office, or the national toll-free number. The toll-free number also offers recorded messages 24 hours a day about various Social Security programs. (See Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Income, and EMPLOYMENT: Social Security Work Incentives)

1-800-325-0778 TDD

Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)
SSDI is federal financial assistance, in the form of a monthly check, for eligible individuals who have disabilities. SSDI enables people who formerly worked, but who have become disabled and are unable to continue working, to receive cash benefits and Medicare insurance. For information about eligibility, benefits, and work incentives related to SSDI, contact the local Social Security office, or the national toll-free number. (See EMPLOYMENT: Social Security Work Incentives)

1-800-325-0778 TDD

Specific Power of Attorney
An alternative to guardianship. Gives another person the right to manage a specific asset for the owner of the asset. (See Guardianship)
Substantial Disabilities
This term represents the requirement for significant amounts of assistance for an individual to perform everyday tasks and participate in everyday life, such as self-care, mobility, adaptive behavior and interpersonal skills, etc.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI is federal financial assistance, in the form of a monthly check, for eligible individuals who have disabilities and who have little income or assets. SSI is intended to provide a minimum level of income to help pay for such basics as food and shelter. For information about eligibility, benefits, and work incentives related to SSI, contact the local Social Security office, or the national toll-free number. (See EMPLOYMENT: Social Security Work Incentives)

1-800-325-0778 TDD

Support Groups
Indiana has over 200 information and support groups for people with disabilities or chronic illness and their families. Various groups provide support for people with disabilities and their families, in local communities and at the state and national level. Some groups are for a specific disability; others welcome any person or family seeking information or support, regardless of diagnosis. Some meet informally as friends, or operate as an informal network with meetings only for special occasions; others are incorporated with boards of directors and regular meetings, or are affiliated with agencies. Some are targeted for the individual having the disability or chronic illness, others are intended for parents, grandparents, or siblings.

A directory of information and support groups in Indiana has been compiled by IPIN (See Indiana Parent Information Network).


A values-driven approach to help young people leaving high school make a successful entry into adult life as full participating citizens. Successful transition requires the coordinated efforts of the student, family, teachers, guidance counselors, school support staff and administrators, community members, and service providers outside the school, to connect the school and the student to the community, and provide support and guidance to the student throughout the process. This transition is so important that the school's responsibilities for the transition process are defined by law (IDEA), to help prevent students "falling through the cracks". Essential to successful transition are:

Transition Services A coordinated set of activities for a student, focusing on desired outcomes, and promoting successful movement from school to post-school involvements, such as integrated community employment (including supported employment), vocational training, post-secondary education, adult continuing education, community participation, independent living, with such adult services as may be needed to support these involvements. The school is responsible by law for coordinating the transition process through the IEP, which is guided by the student's Individual Transition Plan (ITP).

Outcome-Oriented Process Individualized, long-term adult outcomes for each student need to be developed by the student, family, and his or her transition team. The student's high school coursework and related activities, in-school and out-of-school work experiences, community participation, and responsibilities at home can be planned and coordinated to support the student's readiness and preparation for the post-school adult environment. (An effective high school program prepares students to access and succeed in adult environments.)

Post-School Activities; After leaving high school, young adults with disabilities may wish to become involved in any of the same kinds of post-school activities as exiting students without disabilities--employment, academic or vocational education, and a variety of community activities. Involvement in one activity need not exclude others. All desired outcomes should be considered when planning with a student for his or her transition, to increase the likelihood of a well-rounded and full life as a young adult.

Based on Needs, Preferences, and Interests The student must be central to the process. He or she should be present for all transition planning meetings and, with assistance from parents, advocates, peers, and teachers as needed, should convey his or her own vision for a personal future. This vision should be the basis of the student's transition plan. Self-determination, self-advocacy, and skills in communication, assertiveness, and planning will all contribute to the student's success, adjustment, and personal happiness in adult life.

Appropriate Activities Participation in a variety of community and work experiences as a student can help the individual identify his or her interests and preferences. School personnel must collaborate and develop linkages with employers, vocational rehabilitation counselors, community-based adult service providers including job developers and job coaches, assistive technology resource centers and other key players in the adult environment, to promote a smooth transition and to enhance their own skills for developing and maintaining employment opportunities and other community experiences for students.

Incorporation into the IEP The student's Individual Transition Plan (ITP) guides the student's IEP, through which the school coordinates the transition process for each individual. By law, this must occur annually beginning no later than age 16, and must include a statement of the student's needed transition services. When determined appropriate for the individual student, this process may begin at age 14 or younger.

Not only are the student's needed transition services included in his or her IEP, this individualized transition plan is intended to serve as the basis for identifying IEP goals for the remainder of the student's school experience. The student's IEP goals should further the individual's progress toward the personal future he or she has envisioned, as reflected in the student's transition plan.

Statement of Inter-Agency Linkage Good working relationships and information sharing need to begin early in the student's career. When appropriate, the IEP must include a statement of linkages and the responsibilities of each public agency and participating agency before the student leaves the school setting.

It is important to understand that the school's responsibilities are mandated by law, but that most adult services are not legal entitlements. Therefore, capacity and/or funding limitations, as well as outside restrictions related to licensure, age, uses of various types of funding, etc. may prevent adult service agencies from beginning active involvement or direct services to the student as early in the transition as would be desirable. In some cases, to adequately support the individual student, the IEP may need to address such questions as funding for adult services involvement during transition.

Monitoring Responsibilities of the School The law does not require the school to "single- handedly" provide all the transition services stated in the IEP. The school arranges the necessary linkages, and is responsible for coordinating and monitoring the student's transition services, whether provided by the school or an outside agency.

Reconvening the Team Since a primary purpose of transition planning is to reduce the number of students who "fall through the cracks" after high school and do not access the necessary adult services, follow-up is critical. If a participating agency fails to provide the agreed-upon transition services for any reason, the school must arrange a meeting of the transition planning team to identify alternative strategies to meet the student's transition objectives, and revise the IEP if necessary.


An Internet "chat-line" used by people with disabilities, their families and advocates.


A trustee is a person or financial institution that manages the trust. While they are alive, parents can be the trustee of the trust they set up for their child, or they can assign this role to someone else. (See Trusts, below)

Careful financial planning is essential to ensure that supports set up for a child by a parent are left intact. Setting up a trust is one way of ensuring that money is available to a person without jeopardizing Social Security or Medicaid benefits. Trusts hold money or property for the beneficiary's economic benefit. There are many laws and regulations impacting trusts. It is important to make these considerations early and to consult an attorney. It is helpful to consult someone experienced in designing trusts for individuals with disabilities.

Trusts can be designed to distribute assets in several ways. They can distribute money or other assets at certain times or under certain conditions. Some trusts are set up to make distributions at specified intervals over time. Others are designed to distribute only the earning's of the trust, or the amount the beneficiary needs.

Setting up a trust can be very complex. The Arc of the United States and The Arc of Indiana offer free information and seminars regarding trusts for people with disabilities; and The Arc of Indiana offers special needs Trust programs through The Arc Master Trust. (See Arc for contact information.)


Creation of a will is a serious matter and an attorney should be consulted. Large sums of money left to a person with a disability may have a substantial impact on Medicaid, Social Security, and other benefits. (Also see Trusts)