Living With Polio


Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The US Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that all children with disabilities are entitled to a free appropriate public education to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living. Prior to IDEA, over 4 million children with disabilities were denied appropriate access to public education. Many children were denied entry into public school altogether, while others were placed in segregated classrooms, or in regular classrooms without adequate support for their special needs.

The original law, Public Law 94-142, was signed on November 29, 1975, by President Gerald Ford, who states, “I have approved S. 6, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975. Unfortunately, this bill promises more than the Federal Government can deliver… Everyone can agree with the objective stated in the title of this bill — educating all handicapped children in our Nation. The key question is whether the bill will really accomplish that objective.”

The four purposes of the original law were to:

  • Assure that all children with disabilities have a free, appropriate, public education;
  • Assure that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents are protected;
  • Assure that states and localities provide for the education of all children with disabilities; and
  • Assess and assure the effectiveness of efforts to educate all children with disabilities.

The 1997 Amendments to IDEA signed into law by President Bill Clinton articulated a new directive to improve educational results for disabled children and their families.

IDEA is under the US Department of Education, which has comprehensive information on IDEA- Building the Legacy 2004.

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