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The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that students with a disability are provided with a free, appropriate, public education tailored specifically to their individual needs. Return to Overview
Prior to the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, U.S. Public Schools accommodated only 1 out of 5 children with disabilities. In fact, many states had laws that explicitly excluded children with certain types of disabilities from attending public school.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities. It ensures that students with a disability are provided with a free, appropriate, public education tailored specifically to their individual needs.
Legislation in 1973 provided for the establishment of vocational rehabilitation services, with special emphasis on services to those with the most severe disabilities. In 1975, Congress passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA). This required public schools to evaluate handicapped children and, along with parental input, create an educational plan that would mirror as closely as possible the curriculum and overall educational experience of non-disabled students.
In 1990, the EHA was replaced with The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), in order to focus more on the individual along with improving their post-education opportunities.
Key to the legislation are six pillars that ensure a child’s education needs and progress are met with:
IDEA is comprised of two main parts: