The principal founder of Delta Sigma Omicron was Dr. Timothy J. Nugent in concert with a courageous group of students with disabilities, one woman and several men, most in wheelchairs and most veterans of World War II. It was founded at the University of Illinois. The original Board of Directors included Harold A. Scharper, Donald W. Swift, Harold Drake, Harris Hjelter, and George Steinmann. Donald W. Swift was the first President and Tim Nugent served as Advisor and Secretary to the Board.
Delta Sigma Omicron was an integral part of the first comprehensive program of higher education for those with disabilities in the world and helped promote normal education opportunities for those with disabilities in elementary and secondary schools.
It co-sponsored the First National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament in the spring of 1949 and shared in the growth and development of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association and other sport activities for those with disabilities.
Throughout the years it has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to education and to countless charities throughout the United States on behalf of those with disabilities.
In 1950, the publication of Sigma Signs began, an annual publication that told of the achievements and activities of students with severe disabilities attending the university in a positive way. It became a strong force for motivating other individuals with disabilities and also public and professional awareness and education. From the beginning it has been widely distributed to hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, government offices, and professionals as well as individuals with disabilities. It now also serves as a means of keeping in touch with alumni and friends around the world.
During the fifties, the United States Information Agency distributed Sigma Signs to countries throughout the world because of the high regard it had for the stories and messages it contained. Concurrently, The Voice of America (the broadcast network that reached around the World, including Iron Curtain Countries) interviewed members of Delta Sigma Omicron along with faculty for programs to be aired around the World. Although, initially, and for some years, Sigma Signs contained only news of Alpha Chapter and its Field Chapters, it now includes news of chapters on other campuses.
In 1957, Delta Sigma Omicron initiated a monthly newsletter, The Spokesman, which was intended to maintain communications among chapter members and to inform them of current opportunities and activities that may be of interest to them. During the early sixties varied individuals had asked for help in establishing chapters at colleges in their communities. For one brief period, there were five chapters but for lack of continuing numbers and any support from the respective institutions they did not persist.
The Delta Chapter of Delta Sigma Omicron at Arkansas State University was established in January 2001.
Other chapters are:
- Alpha chapter of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
- Zeta chapter of University of North Caroline at Pembroke.
- Arkansas Tech University in Russellville (2006).
- Miami Dade College (2007).
- Florida A&M University in Tallahassee (2008).