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NCD Celebrates 35 Years of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

  • Published: 2010-11-17 (Revised/Updated 2010-11-18) : The National Council on Disability.
  • Synopsis: NCD celebrates 35 years of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) designed to ensure a free public education for every child with a disability.

Main Document

The National Council on Disability (NCD) celebrates 35 years of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a law designed to ensure a free and appropriate public education for every child with a disability.

Prior to the law's enactment, millions of students with disabilities were excluded from the public school system and were denied access to a public education. In 1975, Congress enacted and President Gerald Ford signed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, one of the most important civil rights laws ever written. The central premise of this federal law, now known as IDEA, is that all children with disabilities have a federally protected civil right to a free appropriate public education that meets their education and related services needs in the least restrictive environment.

According to NCD Chairman Jonathan Young, "We're delighted to join with all Americans to celebrate 35 successful years of IDEA and to call attention to the 6.6 million students with disabilities who have been served by this landmark law. The future of America depends upon the ability to ensure educational opportunities and high expectations for all citizens. NCD has long shared a commitment to the principles of IDEA, and to the youth with disabilities served by the protections of this law."

"As IDEA is implemented, we must work to assure the successful transition of students with disabilities to post-secondary or work options and that youth with disabilities have access to the general education curriculum," said Aaron Bishop, NCD's new Executive Director, who joined the agency on November 15.

In keeping with the theme Living, Learning, & Earning used at NCD's National Summit on Disability Policy 2010 last July, NCD is hosting a series of regional forums across the country. The first "Learning" forum is planned for Spring 2011 at a location to be determined. The intent of the forums, consistent with the intent of the National Summit, is to promote extensive collaborations amongst all stakeholders and at all levels of government. "NCD is excited to embark on a path of consistent engagement with our stakeholders," said Anne Sommers, NCD's newly detailed Director of Legislative Affairs and Outreach. "We look forward to using these forums as a venue for productive conversations that will position us more solidly toward an action orientation."

NCD's goals for each of the focused forums are to:

Identify emerging opportunities to enhance the way people with disabilities live, learn, or earn (each forum will focus on a separate aspect of the theme Living, Learning, & Earning);

Establish new mechanisms, and build upon existing ones, to improve the coordination of disability policies, programs, and advocacy efforts; and

Energize collaborative networks to guide future disability policy directions

NCD is an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal officials and entities on all policies, programs, practices and procedures affecting people with disabilities. NCD's mission is to further the goals enshrined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990: equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for all people with disabilities.

For more information, please contact NCD's Director of Communications, Mark Quigley, at or by telephone at 202-272-2004

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