Supports, Services, and Rights for Students With Disabilities

Introduction to the IDEA

tas_classThe Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, is the federal law that requires states to provide early intervention and special education services to children with disabilities, from birth through age 21. The law was first passed in 1975. Originally, the law only required schools to provide special education services to school-age children, ages 5 through 21. However, the law was changed in 1986 to include services for younger children, from birth through age 5. The law was most recently amended, or changed, in 2004. All states must comply with the IDEA. This website will share information about the federal law that applies to services in all states. However, states also pass their own laws and rules about how services are provided to students with disabilities. Therefore, always check the laws and rules in your individual state.

Early Intervention Services
The IDEA requires states to provide early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities, from birth through two years old. Though the law allows states some flexibility, it does provide guidance about which children qualify for services, the process for identifying which services an individual child will receive, and the rights their families have. Continue Reading →
Special Education Services
The IDEA also requires public elementary and secondary schools to provide special education and related services to children with disabilities, ages 3 through 21. Like early intervention, the law describes which children are eligible, how to identify the services a child needs, and rights that the child and his or her family have. Continue Reading →
Individualized Education Programs
The individualized education program, or IEP, is required by the IDEA for all students who receive special education services. The IEP is a written document that describes the services and supports that the school will provide to help a child with a disability achieve his or her educational goals. Because IEPs are supposed to ensure that children with disabilities benefit from their education, the process for writing the IEP is very important, and parents must be invited to participate in that process. Continue Reading →
Transition Planning for Students
Transition planning is part of the IEP process and is designed to help students with disabilities in high school get ready for life after high school, including further education, getting a job, and living on their own. It is very important that the transition process focus on the student’s strengths and interests and that the student be a part of the transition planning process. Continue Reading →
Section 504
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, or Section 504, is a federal law that protects people with disabilities from discrimination. Section 504 requires public elementary and secondary schools to provide students with disabilities the same educational opportunities that students without disabilities receive. Continue Reading →
Post-Secondary Education
Many students with disabilities plan to get more training or education after high school, including students with I/DD. Some students with disabilities will need extra support to be successful in post-secondary education. Some colleges have programs specifically for students with I/DD who did not earn a high school diploma. Students and their families need to understand that the students’ rights and the process for obtaining extra support in post-secondary education programs are different from what they were in high school. In addition to researching programs, visiting schools to determine if they are a good fit, and learning more about financial aid, students with disabilities may also need to research a school’s commitment to supporting students with I/DD, the kinds of disability services available at each school, and how to access those services. Continue Reading →