IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) – U.S. Department of Education Web Site

As the U.S. Department of Education web site titled “Building the Legacy: IDEA 2004” (http://idea.ed.gov/) says – “The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation.”

The original law, titled the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed in 1975. Then in 1990 the law was renamed The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and in 2004 IDEA was revised and reauthorized (and also renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (P.L. 108-446), but the acronym is still IDEA).

Going back to the U.S. government home page of IDEA – “IDEA governs how states 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.”

The IDEA home page is disappointing right off the bat because Part C (ages birth-2) doesn’t work. Even though it says “coming soon” that note has been there for months already.

Part B (ages 3-21) works, and it’s huge. Good luck figuring out where to find the basic information if you’re just starting out learning about Special Education. Sure, you can download the full statute (http://idea.ed.gov/download/statute.html) but unless you’re a lawyer, your eyes will probably glaze over as soon as you start reading it.

Don’t get me wrong, http://idea.ed.gov/ is a goldmine of useful information, but only if you are somewhat familiar with the whole process and are looking for more detailed information. For instance, I like browsing through the “Questions and Answers” sections for major topics. But if you’re a parent just starting out, this site is not very helpful.