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 History of Special Education Law


History of Special Education Law

Venn Diagram


The Venn diagram drawn above depicts the relationship between the Education for All (EFA) Handicapped Children 1975 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004. The differences are indicated under each title of the major circles while the similarities noted in the central oval that encompasses both circles.


The issue about dealing with the handicapped in learning institutions became of concern to the United States in the year 1975 (Huefner, 2008). The number of physically challenged children was continuously rising and for the enactment of the handicapped act got necessitated by the need equally meet the needs of US citizens regardless of the mental or physical condition. In reaction to disabled needs, the USA Congress enacted the Education for Handicapped Act into public law to ensure favorable conditions for the disadvantaged in accessing education. The act that soon got recognition as law underwent several ramifications to suit the stakeholders' demands and in the year 2004 got renamed to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (Heward, 2013). According to the Venn diagram, there are various similarities in the two acts with minor differences that will get discussed in this paper.

Both acts of the law focused on Free and Appropriate Public Education for all children, regardless of their different mental and physical abilities. The federal government through the two acts made it obligatory for local schools offer education to both the able and physically challenged children. The physically challenged children under the two acts entitled to free and appropriate public education to enable them to fulfill their unique needs in preparation for the future education, employment, and self-sustenance. The denial to get entry into public schools got stripped off through the two acts (Turnbull, 2004).

The two acts shared the Least Restrictive Environment provision that receives utter emphasis throughout the implementation of the law by the respective administrations. The rule provides for lack of segregation in offering education in classes. The physically challenged and able students in both public and private schools should get educated together with no special facilities set aside for separate schooling. The provision allows for separate education between the able -bodied and the physically challenged only if the disability case gets extremely severe that satisfactory regular classes fail to address (Heward, 2013). The acts rule out the segregation that existed in learning institution that developed different learning programs to the able-bodied and the physically challenged children. The schools through the acts were to follow a lesson plan that meets the needs of both able-bodied and the physically challenged students.

The Individualized Education Program receives attention in both the disabilities acts. The laws provide for all pupils with an identifiable disability to have a documented education program customized to individual disability needs. There should be an IEP team that develops and maintains the written curriculum for the physically challenged students that receives an annual update about the disability services rendered (Heward, 2013). Professionals, parents and the students get involved in the program to ensure the success of the IEP program. The program lays out the steps the teachers, education providers, parents, and the students themselves follow to meet their stated training and development goals.

Both acts share the Nondiscriminatory Identification and Evaluation provision. There should be a comprehensive process adopted for the evaluation of the disability status of a child. The assessment of the children by the respective public and private schools should be fair and non-biased for the eligibility of the funding provided by the federal government. The acts emphasize on the lack of discrimination on racial, cultural, and language lines in the testing and evaluation procedures.

Comparison of AHA and IDEA

The differences between the AHA and IDEA under this provision get clarity on the language used in assessment procedures (Heward, 2013). IDEA emphasizes the use of native language in evaluating the mental condition of the child and multi-factor decision making in different tests administered. Various ramifications got made through the evolution of AHA that resulted in the protection of the physically challenged in the evaluation procedures.

Both Acts provide for due process in the protection of the physically challenged children alongside their parents. An assessment process under both laws should be carried out with the consent of the disabled parent. Confidentiality of the records pertaining the disability of the students should be highly maintained and upheld by schools that deal with the physically challenged students. The due process hearing gets grant to parents of the physically challenged in the case of disagreement in the evaluation process, and this gets administered at the expense of the public funds (Bradley, 2008). The provision of the due process ensures accountability and fairness in the evaluation of physically challenged students with their families. The families and schools get empowered to exercise their rights to due process in both acts.

Parental and student participation gets emphasized in both acts. The implementation of special education services to cater for the needs of the physically challenged should receive collaboration from the parents and the physically challenged students. Placement decisions should be unanimous and in harmony with the decisions of the involved parties. Consistent communication between the students, family, and the schools should be encouraged (Turnbull, 2004).

Initially, when the law was introduced under the EHA provision, there were a few states that subscribed to the financial support from the federal government. The Act underwent several legal ramifications under the presidency of George W Bush that federal funding got administered to all the states in support of the IDEA act. The provisions in EHA and IDEA undergo various changes to adapt to the dynamic needs of the physically challenged in the society (Heward, 2013). The changes in the discipline process have established authority in school staff that streamline both the able and disabled behavior. The administration of power and control on the basis of the case helps in maintaining and developing good habits necessary for the physically challenged students.

More amendments have occurred in the EHA since inception the solidification of the law through the evolution get strengthened (Turnbull, 2004). The introduction of the regulatory language got introduced through the ramification of the IDEA statutes that allows for evaluation on the basis of the language the physically challenged can understand.


In summary, the various amendments to the EHA and IDEA acts offer a foundation to the physically challenged in their growth and development phases of their life. The disabled through the discussed provisions enacted and implemented by the Congress allow the physically challenged to pursue education and secure jobs hence independence in life. The exclusion that existed in the public school system no longer exists, hence promoting a healthy society that equally caters for the needs of all citizens.