Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees children with disabilities access to a free, appropriate public education, and appropriate support and services, such as instruction in braille, orientation and mobility instruction, and textbooks and other instructional materials in accessible formats.

IDEA encompasses instructional materials, early intervention, related services, and transition from school to work issues.

IDEA provides federal funding to assist states and local communities in providing educational opportunities for approximately six million students with varying degrees of disability who participate in special education. IDEA requires states to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). The statute also contains detailed due process provisions to ensure the provision of FAPE. Originally enacted in 1975, the Act responded to increased awareness of the need to educate children with disabilities and to judicial decisions requiring states to provide an education for children with disabilities if they provide an education for children without disabilities.

  • Part A of IDEA contains the general provisions, including the purposes of the Act and definitions.
  • Part B contains provisions relating to the education of school-aged and preschool children, the funding formula, evaluations for services, eligibility determinations, Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and educational placements. It also contains detailed requirements for procedural safeguards (including the discipline provisions) as well as withholding of funds and judicial review. Part B also includes the Section 619 program, which provides services to children aged 3 through 5 years old.
  • Part C of IDEA provides early intervention and other services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families (from birth through age 3). These early intervention and other services are provided in accordance with an Individualized Family Service Part D provides support for various national activities designed to improve the education of children with disabilities, including personnel preparation activities, technical assistance, and special education research.
  • Part D of IDEA provides for National Activities to Improve Education of Children with Disabilities. Grants are available for these national activities which include programs for State Personnel Development, Technical Assistance and Dissemination, Personnel Preparation, Parent Information Centers, and Technology and Media Services.

For information on IDEA and other education issues, choose links on this page.

This page was updated October 30, 2007