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The IDEA 35th Anniversary

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
Celebrates 35 Years of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

| 35 Years Later | History | Events | Resources |

IDEA—35 Years Later

On Nov. 29, 1975, then-President Gerald Ford signed into law the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142).

In adopting this landmark civil rights measure, Congress opened public school doors for millions of children with disabilities and laid the foundation of the country’s commitment to ensuring that children with disabilities have opportunities to develop their talents, share their gifts, and contribute to their communities.

In the last 35 years, we have advanced our expectations for all students, including students with disabilities. Classrooms have become more inclusive and the future of children with disabilities brighter. Significant progress has been made toward protecting the rights of, meeting the individual needs of, and improving educational results for infants, toddlers, children, and youths with disabilities.

Since 1975, policies and practices that meaningfully include students with disabilities in general education classrooms and accountability systems have proliferated. Today, nearly 60 percent of students with disabilities are in general education classrooms 80 percent or more of their school day.  Early intervention services are now provided to nearly 350,000 infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families, and over 6.6 million children and youths receive special education and related services designed to meet their individual needs. 

In 2010, we celebrate the 35th anniversary of the passage of Public Law 94-142, now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). While tremendous progress has been made over the years, we must continue the hard work and address the challenges that still exist. Although we are able to help many individual students to achieve their goals, we must strive to ensure that all children have the support they need and to find ways to meet each student’s needs within the context of each school.

 

History

On Nov. 29, 1975, the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), guaranteed access to a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment to every child with a disability. Subsequent amendments, as reflected in the IDEA, have led to an increased emphasis on access to the general education curriculum, the provision of services for young children from birth to five, transition planning and accountability for the achievement of students with disabilities.

  • IDEA History Publication: 35 Years of Progress in Educating Children With Disabilities Through IDEA
    35 Years of Progress in Educating Children With Disabilities Through IDEA was designed to reflect on how far we’ve come, envision the future of IDEA and celebrate the millions of people who have enjoyed access to the services and education that lead to high-quality lives as a result of this law.

gold arrow 35 Years of Progress in Educating Children With Disabilities Through IDEA.

  • Celebrating 35 Years of IDEA video
    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is the legislative foundation for all services that students with disabilities receive in schools today. At the 35th anniversary of its passage, this video takes a look back to what the conditions were like before IDEA, and how its passage has changed the educational landscape for students with disabilities today.

 

Events

When What Where
11/18/2010 Secretary Duncan, Assistant Secretary Posny to Address 35th Anniversary Celebration of Special Education Law

Senate Resolution 684, a resolution recognizing the 35th anniversary of the enactment of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975
download files PDF (120KB)

House Congressional Resolution 329, a concurrent resolution recognizing the 35th anniversary of the enactment of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975
download files PDF (110KB)

U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC

11/29/2010 Statement by the President on the 35th Anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act The White House, Washington, DC

 

IDEA Resources

  • "What IDEA Has Meant to Me"
    As we celebrate the 35th anniversary of IDEA, this slide show showcases stories, poetry, photography, art work and video clips from individuals with disabilities, students, teachers, principals, researchers, parents, teacher trainers and others across the country who have been personally impacted by IDEA
    Submissions come from IDEA stakeholders to the American Institutes for Research (AIR), Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and VSA
    download following item MS PowerPoint Show (2.2MB)

 

Contact

Tanya Kosinski
tanya.kosinski@ed.gov
202-245-7407


 
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Last Modified: 06/06/2012