What Is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act?

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What Is IDEA?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that was enacted in 1975 to ensure that children with disabilities have access to public education that is appropriate for their needs. IDEA ensures that states and other public agencies provide adequate services in accordance with the law.

What Benefits Does IDEA Provide?

As of 2004, IDEA contains two parts:

Part B ensures that students with learning disabilities have free access to an appropriate education. Part B helps schools and parents work together to address the specific needs of the child.

Under Part C, babies and toddlers can qualify for services, including nursing, physical therapy, family counseling, speech therapy, or audiology services depending on the areas of disability or developmental delay.

How Do I Know If My Child Qualifies?

Part B:  If a school or parents suspect a child has a learning disability, the parents, along with the school, will conduct an evaluation of the child. To qualify for special education services, a child must meet the following requirements:

Part C:  Infants and toddlers can also receive benefits if they show signs of developmental delay or disability. To be eligible, the child will be evaluated for signs of developmental delay and disability. Such conditions may be present at birth, or may manifest later on.

The process of identifying a disability varies by state.

What Is an Individualized Education Program?

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) identifies the special services that the child will receive to further his or her education. It is reviewed and updated annually. While the IEP process varies by state, IDEA requires that it contain:

Do I Need a Lawyer to Obtain Services Under IDEA?

You do not need a lawyer in order to apply for services under IDEA. However, if you feel that your school or school district is not complying with IDEA, then you should contact a special education attorney to discuss your situation.

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Last Modified: 01-14-2014 11:31 AM PST

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