A quality education is the basic right of every human being. It is also one of the most highlighted parts of human growth, and no one can deprive an individual of this essential need for development. Unfortunately, for some people who suffer from certain conditions, this basic right becomes pretty hard for them to achieve. The regular education curriculum makes school an extremely hard place for them. Luckily, the law of IDEA has simplified this problem.

What is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA?

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or more commonly known as IDEA is an approach towards inclusiveness in the field of public education. It implies that every child deserves to be educated. And, there should be no hurdles that stop him/her from achieving their maximum potential. Moreover, it also states that disabilities should never come in the way for anyone.

Instead of leaving people helpless, this act gives them protection and binds the school with the responsibility to uplift their students even if they have disabilities. What is this Act all about and why is it so important?

History of IDEA

The concept of disability in children in the classroom was only a dream until President Gerald Ford signed the law for education for all children with disabilities in 1975. This concept brought a revolutionary change in the thinking of the general public towards persons with disabilities.

Before this, they had to live an inferior life without any fault whatsoever. Hence this law proved to be a human rights savior, and it turned a new chapter of opportunities for the individuals who already had a difficult life. It provided a space where they could learn and practice new skills. Thus, enabling them to contribute to national development.

It was decided in this law that students who pass the eligibility criteria will receive certain benefits for their education. It promoted the concept of inclusiveness, and instead of arranging separate schools, it urges both special and regular children to study together.

Later, the name of this program was changed to IDEA, which stands for Individuals with Disability Education Act. For over 40 years now, this law has nurtured over millions of students with well-deserved knowledge and skills. Due to that, not only are these kids now accepted in society, but they are also leading a good life in general.

Principles of IDEA

There are six principles of this law that describe the roles and rights of the involved parties. They clearly state the functions of students, schools, and parents for the development of a personalized plan. They are further discussed in detail below:

  1. Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

This principle covers the area of free education. It allows the students to avail cost-free studies from preschool to high school. It contains an individually-tailored curriculum that is specifically designed for each student.

The government aids the cost of the courses and special care. Hence, no burden is put on the parents of the child. Not only does it provide up to the mark educational services, but it also ensures that the students keep receiving the benefits even if he/she gets expelled or suspended from the school.

  1. Evaluation

For a student to utilize the disability act, he/she has to go through a detailed evaluation. For this procedure, professionals of all relevant fields are gathered at one place to determine whether a child can fit in a regular class or will he/she require other facilities. This process also eliminates the chances of bias that are otherwise observed.

  1. Individual Education Plan

Within the act of IDEA, all the qualified students get a tailored program that is designed for each individual. This law realizes that every special child has special needs. Therefore, it ensures to provide a quality education using tools that are useful for them.

  1. Least Restrictive Environment

This principle allows the inclusiveness that is needed now more than ever. It gives students with disabilities the liberty to join regular classes while receiving their extra care they deserve.

Due to this law, they can now go on school trips and engage in extracurricular activities without any hesitation. Such kind of social activities build up their confidence and motivate them.

  1. Parent/Student Decision Making

Sometimes, schools do not value the opinion of students and their family members. This leads to unrest and creates an unhealthy environment.

Thus, the Disability Education Act binds the institutes to include parents in important decisions. Also, it provides the family with the choice to file a complaint if they face any issues with the educational program.

  1. Procedural Safeguards

This law was created for the benefit of children with disabilities; hence it ensures that no school or institute takes advantage of their vulnerability. To make sure that the rules are properly implemented, it facilitates the parents with a number of services.

For example, they receive written notice of every meeting. Also, the school can never expel or change the plan of a student with disabilities. Instead, they have to send a notice to the parents informing them about the changes. If the parents disagree, the school can’t force them.

Eligibility Criteria

Even though the name mentions disabled children, not every disabled child needs special education. Some special students, despite their disability, can cope with the regular classes without any extra help. But it is difficult to determine who needs an individual plan and who doesn’t.

For simplification, this Act has defined 13 categories of different conditions where it can be applied. These categories are as follows:

  1. Blindness
  2. Deaf-blindness
  3. Deafness
  4. Intellectual disability
  5. Autism
  6. Multiple disabilities
  7. Orthopedic impairment
  8. Emotional disturbance
  9. Learning disability
  10. Speech disability
  11. Visual impairment
  12. Other health impairment
  13. Traumatic injury to the brain

If any student has one or more of the conditions mentioned above, and he/she requires a special curriculum as a result of it, only then he/she is considered eligible for IDEA.

Importance of IDEA

This bill might seem like some ordinary effort, but in reality, it is quite valuable. If you think about it, before this law, students with disabilities had no facility to cater to their specific needs. Either they were forced to follow a predetermined curriculum or were left behind in the public education setting. In such circumstances, the IDEA gave them the shelter that they needed for a long time.

Not only has it obligated the school to make individualized plans, but it has also forced them to include children with disabilities in routine activities. Due to this, a positive change has been observed in the literacy rate.

With their talents and passions, they are working hand in hand with everyone to play their part. And all of this was made possible with the law of IDEA.


IDEA has introduced individual curriculum plans for students with disabilities. It not only protects their right for education, but also urges the school to arrange a special arrangement for each student.

Along with equity in education, IDEA also ensures that the children get enough exposure that they need for proper growth. It has an eligibility criterion that decides which students get special care, and it also gives the parents their right to make decisions for their child.