History of Special Education

  • Dorothea Dix

    Dorothea Dix
    Dorothea Dix was an activist who during her life dramatically changed the medical field. She became a key figure in helping the mentally ill and had an instrumental role in founding or expanding more than 30 bigger and more specialized institutions for treatment, where she improved their quality of life. She became the first advocate for the future inclusion of the mentally ill.
  • Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

    Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet
    Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet was responsible for starting the first special education school in the United States, the American Asylum for the Education and Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb (now called the American School for the Deaf), in Hartford, Connecticut. He played a major role in advocating for the education of the deaf and was instrumental in the creation of American Sign Language.
  • Edouard Séguin

    Edouard Séguin
    Edouard Séguin was an American psychiatrist who opened the world’s first school for the severely intellectually disabled. He believed that mental deficiency was caused by a weakness of the nervous system, and could be cured through a process of motor and sensory training.
  • Elizabeth E. Farrell

    Elizabeth E. Farrell
    Elizabeth E. Farrell was an educational pioneer. She was the first person to teach a class of special education students in America, and for organizing the Council for Exceptional Children. Farrell stated that schools should exclude no child and that is still the expectation.
  • Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

    Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)
    The Council for Exceptional Children was founded by Elizabeth Farrell and she was the first president of the organization. Their mission was to improve educational outcomes and expand the academic achievements of individuals with special needs. It supports administrative policies, offers professional development for educators and families, establishes professional standards, and helps professionals and organizations attain helpful resources for people with exceptionalities.
  • Department of Special Education

    Department of Special Education
    In 1931 the Department of Special Education was established and the law required teaching children with disabilities. Full special education classes were formed.
  • Association for Children with Learning Disabilities

    Association for Children with Learning Disabilities
    In 1963, The Association for Children with Learning Disabilities was formed. Parents and professionals from other disciplines joined forces at a national conference held in Chicago, where they recognize the need for services for children with special needs. The outcome of this conference provided the framework for legislation, theories, diagnostic, procedures, educational practices, research, and training models.
  • (PARC) v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

    (PARC) v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
    Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children, along with parents of children with mild to severe disabilities, sued the state and won their case to establish a free and appropriate education (FAPE) for all children with mental retardation between the ages of 6 and 21 in Pennsylvania. This case brought forth ideas that are upheld in current laws and regulations.
  • Mills v. Board of Education

    Mills v. Board of Education
    The Mills suit claimed that children with disabilities were excluded from public education without due process. The court established that children with disabilities have as equal right to an education as their non-disabled peers.
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

    Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
    Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act made it illegal for any federal agency, public university, defense or other federal contractors, or any other institution that received federal funding to discriminate against anyone solely on the basis of disability. The language of Section 504 was the same as that of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Education of the Handicapped Act (EHA)

    Education of the Handicapped Act (EHA)
    Education of the Handicapped Act (EHA) was a law signed by President Ford which authorized free public education for all children with disabilities. It stated that all children with a disability must have an individualized education plan (IEP) and be served in the least restrictive environment.
    Today we know this law as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
  • American with Disabilities Act (ADA)

    American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
    The ADA grants civil rights to individuals with disabilities. The law stated that individuals with disabilities couldn’t be discriminated against. It defined an individual with a disability as a person who “has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impartment, or is regarded as having such impairment”.
  • IDEA

    Education for All Handicapped (EHA) named changed to Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).
    The Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a piece of American legislation that ensures students with a disability are provided with Free Appropriate Public Education, in the least restrictive environment and, that is tailored to their individual needs.
    IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: History and Summary
  • IDEA

    IDEA was reauthorized under President Clinton and amended to require the inclusion of students with disabilities in statewide and district-wide assessments, measurable IEP goals and objectives, functional behavioral assessment, and behavior intervention plans for students with emotional or behavioral needs.
  • No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)

    No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)
    This law aimed at improving public primary and secondary schools, and student performance, by increasing accountability for schools, school districts, and states.
    This legislation collects information and study issues related to Federal, State, and local special education programs with the goal of recommending policies for improving the education performance of students with disabilities.
  • IDEA

    Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 was to bring IDEA of 1997 into alignment with the No Child Left Behind Act taking into consideration the following Six principles
    . Zero reject/No exclusion
    . Protection in evaluation
    . Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
    . Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
    . Procedural Safeguards
    . Parental Participation
    PDF Guide:
    IDEA- Parent Guide