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Award Guidelines

The purpose of AAIDD's annual awards is to recognize those who have made significant contributions that have influenced positive change in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities over an extended period of time.  The following general guidelines apply to ALL AAIDD awards:

  1. Membership in AAIDD is not a prerequisite for an award.
  2. A candidate may not nominate himself or herself.
  3. Recipients can receive an award in only one category.
  4. Decision of the Awards and Fellowship Committee will prevail.
  5. Activities of recipients must have a national or international impact.
  6. No posthumous awards will be given except for a person who died within the current year.
  7. No elected AAIDD member or staff at the state/provincial, regional or national level is eligible for an award during his or her term of office.
  8. Individuals may not be considered if they have received an award within the last 10 years.
    (Download a list of Past Awardees)

Required Documentation

The following nomination guidelines apply to all AAIDD awards, see table below for awards with additional requirements.  Incomplete nominations will not considered by the Awards and Fellowship Committee.

All nominations must include the following documentation, in English: 

  1. Nominator’s name, affiliation, title, address, phone number, and email.
  2. Nominee’s name (or contact person for a nominated organization or program), affiliation, title, address, phone number, and email.
  3. A narrative, not to exceed 500 words, in support of the nomination, addressing the following areas:
    • Significance of contributions.
    • Quality and thoroughness of contributions.
    • Years (duration) of significant effort.
    • Geographic range of contributions; (i.e., local, national,  international)
    • Contributions within or beyond requirements of professional position.
  4. Resume or vita of nominee.
  5. List of three (3) references familiar with the nominee's achievements, including name, affiliation, title, address, phone number, and email. References may not work directly with the nominee.

The following award nominations required additional information:

    Full Community Inclusion: 

    The three (3) letters of support for nomination must be from different types of individuals and entities, such as but not limited to human services agencies, government agencies, community members, and persons who receive services.


    The three (3) letters of support must include at least one from a member of AAIDD who is a citizen of the US or Canada.
    Brief examples or summaries of selected written work of the nominee must be provided in English.


    A copy of or access to (URL, database, etc.) the work(s) depicting Americans with disabilities in the nominated medium in a positive light must be provided.


    Only two (2) letters of support are required, but must be from faculty members and provide evidence of service, leadership or scholarship.

    Early Career:*

    Service means contributing to service improvement for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.*

    * the following definition apply:
    Leadership means performance that has guided or directed others in improving the quality of programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

    Policy development means contributions in public and social policy directed towards improving the quality of programs and services for citizens with intellectual or developmental disabilities


    Scholarship means performance that reflects a systematic application of scientific inquiry techniques to a problem of significance in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities.