Landmark Legislation for People with Disabilities

I hope you have a fresh cup of coffee because it is time to get down to business and look the important laws on behalf of people with disabilities in the past 50ish years. Again, most of my information in this post will come from The Exceptional Child

  • 1963: University Affiliated Facilities (PL 88-164) funded the establishment of University Affiliated Facilities. In 2000, through the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (PL 106-402), these facilities were renamed University Centers of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs). There are 67 located across the United States. They have been involved in all significant disability initiatives for 40 years.
    • Main purposes of UCEDDs: to create, demonstrate, evaluate interventions and educational programs for children and youth with disabilities in their family AND to provide professional trainees with interdisciplinary training AND establish university-community partnerships to improve services for people with disabilities (pg 33)1963: University Affiliated Facilities (PL 88-164) – This law allocated funds to establish University Affiliated Facilities or UAFs, which were staffed by interdisciplinary teams and promoted exemplary practices related to early intervention and serving infants and young children with developmental disabilities.
  • 1968: Handicapped Children’s Early Education Assistance Act, or HCEEP, (PL 90-538), which was renamed the Early Education Project for Children with Disabilities in 1992. (see how it was renamed with People First Language)
    • Main purposes of this law is to improve on early intervention services (early because we know so much development takes place in those first years) for children with disabilities or potential disabilities, focus on parent involvement, and fund centers that develop, prove the worth of, and spread better early education practices for children with developmental delays.
  • 2007: Head Start Act (PL 110-134) required that beginning in 2009 at least 10% of the children attending would be children with disabilities.
    • Head Start was started in 1965 and as of 2008, has impacted more than 25 million familes. Head Start serves more than 900,000 children and a little over 12% of those children are children with disabilities. (Like I said in my last post, Head Start is an important program that gives children with disadvantages, including those with disabilities, important opportunities to be school ready when they enter Kindergarten!)
  • 1973 and reauthorized in 2000: Developmental Disabilities Act, DDA, (PL 106-402).
    • Main purposes: This law works to reduce discrimination against individuals with disabilities (section 504), required that every person with a disability is to be given public access into jobs, education, housing and public buildings (think wheelchair ramps and other accommodations), and required schools to give children with disabilities accommodations (for example a child with ADD might be given extra time to complete a test).
  • 1975: Education for All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142), was popular as The Bill of Rights for Handicapped Children. It is now the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, IDEIA (PL 108-446)
    • Main Purposes: IDEIA requires that all children get free, appropriate, public education and encourages the state to serve preschool children that need early intervention. This legislation was considered a huge success in upholding the constitutional rights of citizens with disabilities, because of its guarantee that all, including those with disabilities, children would receive an appropriate education.
      • Provided funds, incentive funds, to get states to find children of preschool age who who needed early intervention through Child Find programs (a program started in the 1960s to identify children with developmental delays or problems) and provide them with services.
      • There is a zero reject policy: this mandated local schools to provide all children, no matter the severity of their disability with free education appropriate to their needs. An appropriate education meant that the school district must provide educational services to each that are appropriate to each child as detailed in their IEP or IFSP. (See post on IEP/IFSP)
      • Least Restrictive Environment: this is the law’s word for Inclusion and it means that as far as possible, children who have disabilities will be educated with their peers who are not identified as having disabilities. They must be given the adequate support or it is not considered least restricted.
      • Parents must be given the right to call for a meeting or special hearing to address concerns with their child’s education. A child cannot be removed because of inconvenient behavior. This is all part of due process which give the parent’s rights to look over their child’s records, be consulted when it comes to decisions about their child’s education, be given notice of any proposed changes to their child’s educational classification or placement, and demand legal representation if there is any unresolved disagreement with the school.
      • IDEIA also emphasizes parent involvement. It recognizes and wants to utilize the importance of the parent’s part in their child’s growth.
    • 1986 and 2004: The Education For All Handicapped Children Act Amendments is considered “the most comprehensive legislation ever enacted on behalf of infants and young children, in which services were mandated for children from birth through age three. In 2004, new criteria were added in the areal of IFSP development, Child Find, transition to Kindergarten, and dispute resolution.”
      • Laws in regard to services for children ages birth to three. They fall into the category of discretionary legislation, meaning the state is not required to offer the services. If, however, the state is providing services to non disabled children, they are then required to provided services for children with disabilities. The children can receive services is they have delays or are potentially going to have delays without intervention and do not have to be labeled as such. The family will receive an multidisciplinary assessment outlining needs and service (IFSP).
    • 2004: Latest IDEIA Updates, came into effect on July 1, 2005.
      • New requirements for Special Education Teachers– highly qualified, have a B.A., obtain state special education licensure (not temporary).
      • New goals working to provide special education and services to children with disabilities for children who do not have a home or are in a mobile population.
      • New requirement, within 15 days of a parent’s complaint the Local Education Agency  will call a meeting to try and resolve the issue.
      • New, a functional behavior assessment: if a child who has violated the code of conduct, the LEA will meet with parent, and if it is determined that the behavior is due to a disability they will be given a functional behavior assessment to evaluate how the child’s behavior “works” to get them what they need and provided with a positive behavior plan. If the behavior is not due to the disability, the child will have to face the schools consequences.
      • State are allowed to extend IFSP services until the child enters Kindergarten.
      • On an IEP, the sections: short term objectives or benchmarks are no longer required.
    • 1990: Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA (PL 101-336) provides civil rights protection to individuals in their employment, public services, accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications. And if there is a violation of the ADA, a complaint can be filed with the U.S. Department of Justice. Here is a video on the impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
    • 1973: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is the first civil rights statute for people with disabilities and it offers protection to people form being discriminated against based on their disability.
    • 2002: No Child Left Behind Act, NCLB (PL107-110) is a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
      • Main purposes: to improve math and literacy testing, reauthorize school reform by using federal funds, requires states to create accountability for annual progress in math and reading, children with disabilities are to be tested alongside their typically developing peers, and if a child has an IEP accommodations must be offered.
      • 2010: proposed changes to NCLB included: focus more on student growth, broadening the range of assessments, and assessing all children appropriately including consideration for English language learners, minorities and children with special needs.

There is much more that can be discussed and learned about the legislation having to do with children with disabilities but these laws show the progress our country has made in this area.

Now that you’ve finished your coffee, go follow all of this wonderful legislation! lots of love & sunshine, Ms. Sarah


One thought on “Landmark Legislation for People with Disabilities

  1. Pingback: Children with Disabilities: A History of Advocacy and Change | Sunny Room Seven

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