ADA/IDEA

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There are a number of federal and state laws that relate to individuals with disabilities. Three federal laws are particularly relevant to children and education.

ADA or The Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights law which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, Department of Justice Seal public services and accommodations. The law prohibits discrimination against an individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities. The ADA is most often used to ensure fair treatment by employers of employees with disabilities.

Major life activities include:

caring for oneself performing manual tasks walking
seeing hearing speaking
breathing learning working

IDEA or Individuals With Disabilities Education Act requires that public schools provide a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment to persons with disabilities until high school graduation or age 22, whichever comes first. It provides federal financial assistance to State and local education agencies to guarantee special education and related services to eligible children with disabilities.

Disability categories outlined in the law are:

autism deaf-blindness deafness emotional disturbance
hearing impairment mental retardation multiple disabilities orthopedic impairment
other health impairment specific learning disability speech or language impairment traumatic brain injury
visual impairment, including blindness      

The IDEA Practices Web site (http://idea.ed.gov) provides useful and timely information to help professionals and families understand and implement IDEA 2004. IDEA Practices is a service of the ASPIIRE and ILIAD IDEA Partnership Projects. Special features include a monthly online and email newsletter--IDEA news--providing up-to-date news and resources, unique hyper linked and searchable versions of the IDEA law and regulations, a series of FAQ's, and an extensive set of IDEA-related resources, all reviewed by OSEP for accuracy and consistency with IDEA 2004.

Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities, public and private, that receive federal financial assistance. It applies to all government financed institutions lie public elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, and almost all private colleges and universities as well. Any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment is eligible under the law.