History of Special Education

  • First school for the deaf, Gallaudet University

    Gallaudet University in Connecticut was the first school in the world to be established to teach deaf students sign language and to provide an education. Before it's establishment, people who were deaf or who had any disability were hidden from the public view to avoid ridicule.
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    History of Special Education

    Special Education in the United States has taken many years to grow and evolve into the progressive and open-minded practices of today. Thanks to the efforts of people who believed that everyone deserves an education, students with disabilities have a more solid foundation today than ever to pursue their dreams.
  • First school for the blind, Perkins Institution established

    A physician named Sam Gridley Howe, established the first school for formal education of individuals who were blind. With the establishment of successful schools for the deaf and blind, more research and attention led to other disabilities being considered for rehabilitation.
  • 1860-1950 Stagnation Period for Rights of Disabled People

    From the time of the Civil War in 1860 to the beginning of the era of reforms and desegregation, reforms to help people with disabilities were put on hold as the Industrial Revolution and the need for workers came to an end and the United States took a dim view of disabilities and used sterilization and isolation techniques. This changed after World War ll when sterilization slowed and reforms for African American's rights gained momentum.
  • Social Security Benefits for Disabilities began

    Reforms to Social Security now provided income benefits to individuals who were disabled between the age of 50 and 65 and for individuals with disabilities before the age of 18 years old.
  • Medicare Law provides health insurance for people with disabilities

    The Medicare law was an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935 to provide health care benefits for seniors, individuals with disabilities, and low-income families. Beginning in 1965, medical insurance was funded by the federal government to assist disabled Americans.
  • Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) of 1968

    The Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) required that federal buildings be built or modified to allow accessibility to people with disabilities. This included Post Offices, schools, government buildings, US Courthouses, national parks, and more.
  • Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

    Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (PARC) won the right for students with intellectual disabilities to attend school with their peers instead of in a segregated classroom.
  • Mills v. Board of Education of District of Columbia

    Mills v. Board of Education of District of Columbia ruled in favor of the 18,000 students in the District of Columbia who had hyperactivity, behavior problems, epilepsy, and other disabilities, and were given the right to be provided an education regardless of a disability.
  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973

    The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 made it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities in federally funded programs. Section 504 of the Act was to prevent discrimination on the basis of a student's disability. The law required schools to provide accommodations to students that would help them be equal in their abilities to perform in school like their peers.
  • The Education for All Handicapped Children of 1975

    The Education for All Handicapped Children of 1975 required school to allow students with disabilities to be admitted and educated. This law was expanded in 1990 into the current law called IDEA.
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) took the The Education for All Handicapped Children law further by holding schools accountable for identifying and providing an education to students with disabilities. The Act requires that a “free and appropriate public education” (FAPE) be provided to all students with disabilities in the “least restrictive environment” (LRE). Parents and the educational team are required to be involved in the Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals from discrimination in the workplace, school, and other environments. The law was amended in 2008 to clarify the protections from discrimination.
  • The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008

    The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) provided opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities to pursue higher education. Though some of the programs certificate and non-degree programs, they give students the opportunity to pursue higher education with their non-disabled peers.
  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010

    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 prevented discrimination in getting health insurance based on previous health problems and disabilities.