Definitions from DDC 5-Year State Plan

Link to Draft 2022-2026 State Plan

Link to survey to give comments

There are some words used in this document that are used in different ways by different people. Below are some of those words and how the DDC defines them. If you have any questions about these words or any others in this document, please contact us and we will be happy to provide clarification.

  • Developmental disability: The DDC uses the federal definition of developmental disability, which is much broader than the Washington State definition that qualifies people for state services. According to the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 (DD Act), developmental disability is defined as: a severe, chronic disability of an individual that:
      • (i) is attributable to a mental or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments;
      • (ii) is manifested before the individual attains age22;
      • (iii) is likely to continue indefinitely;
      • (iv) results in substantial functional limitations
        in 3 or more of the following areas of major life activity:

        • (I) Self-care.
        • (II) Receptive and expressive language.
        • (III) Learning.
        • (IV) Mobility.
        • (V) Self-direction.
        • (VI) Capacity for independent living.
        • (VII) Economic self-sufficiency; and
      • (v) reflects the individual’s need for a combination
        and sequence of special, interdisciplinary, or generic
        services, individualized supports, or other forms of
        assistance that are of lifelong or extended duration
        and are individually planned and coordinated.


  • Evidence-based practices: Evidence-based practices integrate:
      • a) clinical experience
      • b) scientific evidence, and
      • c) client/family perspectives to provide high quality services reflecting the interests, values, needs, and choices of all individuals served.


  • Equity: Shared decision making and shared power.


  • Culturally relevant: An approach that acknowledges and affirms people’s differences and diversity. It uses people’s own experiences, cultures, and identities to make learning more effective.


  • Racism: Words, thoughts, or actions by an individual or system that cause harm to a person or group based on their race or ethnicity.


  • Ableism: Words, thoughts, or actions by an individual or system that cause harm to a person or group based on their abilities or disabilities.


  • Inclusion: Being included or feeling a sense of belonging in a group.


  • Intersectionality: A way to understand how people have different identities that “intersect” and sometimes people can be discriminated against even more when they have more than one identity that is marginalized (example: someone with a disability who is also Black can experience harm and discrimination both because of ableism and racism)

DDC 2021