The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, also known as the IDEA Act, is federally mandated to provide free public education opportunities for eligible children with disabilities. IDEA defines a "child with a disability" and lists the rights of children and their parents under this law.
Firmly entrenched in federal law since 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates free public education opportunities for eligible children with disabilities and promotes family involvement in the educational process. The IDEA Act covers services that include early intervention (from birth through age two) and special education (ages three through 21). With an emphasis on parental advocacy for their children’s well-beings, the IDEA Act empowers parents by putting procedural safeguards in place that facilitate not only the parents’ involvement but also their decision-making capability.
Basic Tenet of IDEA
By upholding the dignity through disability and advocating for the rights of disabled children, Congress notes in the IDEA act that a disability is a natural part of the human experience and doesn't diminish the rights of individuals to
Eligible Disabilities Covered Under IDEA
Section 300.8 of IDEA defines “child with a disability” as a child who has
- An intellectual disability.
- A hearing impairment (including deafness).
- Speech or language impairments (a communication disorder).
- A visual impairment (including blindness).
- A serious emotional disturbance (manifested over a long
). period of time
- An orthopedic impairment (congenital anomalies, conditions of disease and other causes).
- Autism (affecting verbal and nonverbal communication
social interaction). as well as
- A traumatic brain injury (
injury, not acquired of congenital or degenerative conditions). as a result
- A specific learning disability (certain conditions such as dyslexia, but not other conditions such as cultural disadvantages).
- Deaf-blindness (a
of hearing and visual impairment not accommodated by single programs for either deafness or blindness). combination
- Multiple disabilities (a
of disabilities other than deaf-blindness). combination
- Other health impairments (chronic or acute health problems including asthma, diabetes, epilepsy and sickle cell anemia).
The IDEA Act in 1975
With its beginnings in 1975,
Implementation of 1997 IDEA
The IDEA Act of 1997, commonly called IDEA
Amended IDEA Act of 2004
In 2004, IDEA
Stated Purpose of IDEA
Mirroring the changes to IDEA through the years since its 1975 inception, its stated purpose has also evolved to its present-day definition, which is to:
- Ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them, a free,
public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living. appropriate
- Ensure that
the rights of children with disabilities and the parents of such children are protected.
- Assist states, localities, educational service agencies and
agencies to provide for the education of all children with disabilities. Federal
- Assist states in
a statewide, comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary, interagency system of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. the implementation of
- Ensure that educators and parents have the
tools to improve educational results for children with disabilities by supporting system improvement activities, necessary research and personnel preparation, coordinated technical coordinated , dissemination, technology development and media services. assistance and ensure the effectiveness Assess, efforts to educate children with disabilities. of,
IDEA Part A - Terms and Foundation
IDEA Part B - School-Age Children
Part B of IDEA applies to school-age children
The American Psychological Association (APA) lists IDEA's six principles, which include:
to a free and Every child is entitled public education (FAPE). appropriate
- When a school professional believes that a student between the ages of three and 21 may have a disability that has
impact on the student's learning or behavior, the student substantial to an evaluation in all areas related to the suspected disability. is entitled
- The creation of an individualized education plan (IEP). The purpose of the IEP is to
out a series of specific actions and steps through which educational providers, parents and the student themselves may reach the child's stated goals. lay in the least restrictive environment, and if possible, those children The education and services for children with disabilities must be provided in a "typical" education setting with non-disabled students. be placed into account in the education process. The input of the children and their parents must be taken
- When a parent feels that an IEP is inappropriate for their child, or that their child is not receiving needed services, they have the right under IDEA to challenge their child's treatment (due process).
IDEA Part C - Early Intervention Services
Before an infant or toddler reaches the age of three, the child and its family are eligible for early intervention services under IDEA Part C. From birth through age two, the APA lists
to appropriate, Every family is entitled and multidisciplinary identification and intervention services for their very young child. timely available to all families with infants and toddlers. These services must be made to receive an individualized family service plan (IFSP). This plan lays out the priorities, resources and concerns of the family. In addition, it describes the goals of the child, the services to Families are required to the be provided steps for eventual transitioning of the child into formal education. child as well as
- Families have a right to
in participate the IFSP and must give consent prior to the initiation of intervention services. the creation of
to the are entitled resolution of all conflicts or complaints regarding the evaluation or services provided to their child. timely
IDEA Part D - National Activities and Resources
IDEA Part D includes national activities, such as grants, that
- IDEA: About IDEA
- IDEA: Section 300.8 - Child With a Disability
- University of Washington: What is the Individuals with Disabilities Act?
- National Association of Special Education Teachers: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997
- IDEA: 2019 Determination Letters on State Implementation of IDEA
- American Psychological Association: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)