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Celebrating 40 Years of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)!

November 2015 | This year marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (formerly called the Education for All Handicapped Children Act), which was signed into law by President Gerald Ford on November 29, 1975. This landmark legislation, which underlies almost all of Advocates for Children’s work on behalf of students with disabilities, ensured access to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment for every child in the United States. Prior to 1975, the majority of children with disabilities were excluded from public school entirely, segregated from their non-disabled peers in sub-par settings, or left without the services and supports they needed to make educational progress. While there remains much work to be done to ensure students with disabilities not only have a seat in the classroom, but receive a quality education and equal access to opportunities once there, we mark this milestone by paying tribute to the families and advocates who paved the way. 

Read a letter from Executive Director Kim Sweet [PDF] marking this milestone.

For more on the history of the IDEA, see the U.S. Department of Education's website



A few AFC staff members reflect on what the IDEA means to them.