Use the links below to explore several of the most influential laws. These form the core of current protection against discrimination and current guarantees of equal educational opportunity that individuals with disabilities have in our nation. Because these laws are so important to ensuring the rights of those with disabilities, you should become familiar with both the laws and their regulations.

IDEA—the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

IDEA, the Individual with Disabilities Education Act, is our nation’s special education law. The IDEA guides how states, school districts, and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.

NCLB—No Child Left Behind Act

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, Public Law (PL) 107-110, is the nation’s latest general education law. It amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and is bringing sweeping changes to our educational systems. What does the law require, what does it change about education, how are states responding, and what does the law mean for children with disabilities?

Other Related Education/Disability Laws

There are several related education/disability laws—beyond IDEA and NCLB—that support individuals with disabilities and their families. Ever heard of FERPA or FOIA? Find out what’s behind these acronyms here.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and ADA

Before there was IDEA, there was the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. Section 504 of this Act continues to play an important role in education and served as a foundation for the development of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
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