IDEA

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

What is IDEA?

IDEA is an Act signed in 1990 that ensures a free and appropriate education to children with disabilities. The goal is to protect these children, giving them an education in the least restrictive environment possible. IDEA also gives the parents of these children a say in the education they receive.

Who is covered under IDEA?

IDEA covers children from age 0-21 who have been diagnosed with a disability. Everyone is covered under IDEA.

The 13 types of disabilities under IDEA include:


  • Autism
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Deafness
  • Emotional Disturbance
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Other health impairment
  • Specific learning disability
  • Speech or language impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Visual Impairment



If a child has one or more of these disabilities and requires special education, that child is covered under IDEA.

14 Mandates:

1. Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

2. Categories of Disabilities

3. Special Education

4. Related Services

5. Child Find/Identification

6. Full Educational Opportunities

7. Physical Education

8. Priorities

9. Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

10. Due Process

11. Protection in Evaluation Procedures

12. Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

13. Confidentiality

14. Transition

1997 Amendments

In 1997, President Clinton signed in additional amendments that would work on improving IDEA. These amendments improved the act by:


  • Strengthening the relationship between parents and the school
  • Educating children with disabilities with their non-disabled peers (inclusion)
  • Creating expectations for students with disabilities
  • Holding schools more accountable
  • Identifying children with disabilities earlier on to ensure the best education possible
  • Creating IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) that set up an appropriate education for each individual child under IDEA

2004 Amendments

  • Improving Educational Results for Children with Disabilities
  • Aligns IDEA with NCLB
  • Reduce paperwork
  • Improve early intervention strategies
  • Correct over identification
  • Reduce Litigation
  • Ensure School Safety
  • Implement Complete Funding of IDEA

2008 Amendments

  • Consent from parents/guardians for continued special education services
  • Non-attorney representation in due process hearings, state monitoring, technical assistance, and enforcement
  • Allocation of funds
  • Future efforts to hire individuals with disabilities