What is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act?

DO-IT Factsheet #48

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) [1] is the federal law that supports special education and related service programming for children and youth with disabilities. It was originally known as the Education of Handicapped Children Act, passed in 1975. In 1990, amendments to the law were passed, effectively changing the name to IDEA. In 1997 and again in 2004, additional amendments were passed to ensure equal access to education.

This federal legislation is designed to ensure that children with disabilities be granted a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). IDEA does the following:

For more information about IDEA, consult Summaries of IDEA [2], published by the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY).