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OSERS: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
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Legislation and Policy

OSERS develops and implements policy and legislation that directly impact individuals with disabilities and their families. OSERS also plays a critical role in monitoring these laws and regulations.


Founding Law

OSERS basic founding law can be found in the following section of the U.S. Code:

U.S. Code: Title 20, Chapter 48, Subchapter II, Section 3417.
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

There shall be in the Department an Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, to be administered by the Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services appointed under section 3412(b) of this title. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 3472 of this title, the Secretary shall delegate to the Assistant Secretary all functions, other than administrative and support functions, transferred to the Secretary under sections 3441(a)(1) of this title (with respect to the bureau for the education and training of the handicapped), 3441(a)(2)(H) of this title, and 3441(a)(4) of this title.


Laws and statutes authorizing OSERS programs and activities:

  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act amendments of 1997. (IDEA)

    The IDEA formula grant programs (Part B, Sections 611, and 619) assist states in providing a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment for children with disabilities ages 3 through 21 and early intervention services (Part C) for infants and toddlers birth through age two and their families.

    The IDEA Part D National Program provides discretionary grants to institutions of higher education and other non-profit organizations to support research, demonstrations, technical assistance, and dissemination, technology, personnel development and parent-training and information centers.

  • The Rehabilitation Act of 1973. (Rehab Act)
    This program supports vocational rehabilitation (VR) services through assistance to the states. The VR state grants program provides a wide range of services designed to help persons with physical or mental impairments, which result in a substantial impediment to employment, prepare for and engage in gainful employment to the extent of their capabilities. Services are tailored to the specific needs of the individual through an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).
  • The Education of the Deaf Act. (EDA)
    The EDA supports Gallaudet University, a federally chartered, private, non-profit educational institution providing elementary, secondary, undergraduate, and continuing education programs for persons who are deaf. Gallaudet University offers a traditional liberal arts curriculum for students who are deaf and graduate programs in fields related to deafness for students who are deaf and students who are hearing. The EDA also provides support for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), which was created by Congress in 1965 to promote the employment of persons who are deaf. NTID offers a variety of technical programs at the certificate, diploma and associate degree levels. In addition, NTID students may participate in educational programs available through the host institution, the Rochester Institute of Technology.
  • Act to Promote Education of the Blind of March 3, 1879.
    The Act supports the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) to provide high-quality educational materials to legally blind persons enrolled in educational or vocational training programs below the college level so that these students may benefit more fully from their educational programs. Materials are produced and made available free of charge to schools and states through proportional allotments that reflect the number of blind students in each state. The allotments are based on an annual census, conducted by APH, of the number of students who are legally blind in each state and are provided in the form of credits.
  • The Assistive Technology Act of 2004. (AT Act)
    The Assistive Technology Program empowers individuals with disabilities to have greater control over their lives and more fully participate in their home, school, and work environments and in their communities by enhancing access to assistive technology devices and services. Assistive technology devices include such items as communication devices, adapted appliances for accessible living, environmental control devices, modified housing, adapted computers, and specialized software.
  • The Randolph-Sheppard Act. (Vending Facilities for the Blind)
    The Vending Facility Program authorized by the Randolph-Sheppard Act (P.L. 74-732, as amended by P.L. 83-565 and P.L. 93-516, 20 U.S.C. section 107 et seq.) provides persons who are blind with remunerative employment and self-support through the operation of vending facilities on federal and other property. The program, enacted into law in 1936, was intended to enhance employment opportunities for trained, licensed blind persons to operate vending facilities. At the outset, sundry stands were placed in the lobbies of federal office buildings and post offices. The law was amended in 1954 and again in 1974 to ensure individuals who are blind a "priority" in the operation of vending facilities on federal property that include cafeterias, snack bars, miscellaneous facilities, and facilities comprised solely of vending machines.


Implementing OSERS' Policies and Legislation

Additional resources and information about legislation and policy can be found on the following pages:


Last Modified: 09/23/2015