Celebrating 35 Years of the IDEA:The U.S. Department of Education Wants to Know how the Law has Made a difference

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     The Education for All Handicapped Children Act was originally passed in 1975. Congress stated that it was enacting  this landmark legislation because, at that time,  there were more than eight million students with disabilities in the United States but more than half of those children were not receiving appropriate educational services and one million children with disabilities were "excluded entirely from the public school system and will not go through the educational system with their peers."  Thus, Congress enacted this law to ensure that students with disabilities had access to a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. The law was later amended and renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Moreover, subsequent amendments have led to an increased emphasis on access to the general education curriculum, the provision of services to children from birth to age five, transition planning and additional accountability for the achievement of students with disabilities. This year, 2010, marks the 35th anniversary of the IDEA.

     This November, in honor of this milestone, the U.S. Department of Education and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) will host a celebration in Washington D.C. They are seeking comments from individuals who have a personal experience with the IDEA or have witnessed its impact. Thus, OSERS is welcoming stories, poetry, photography, art work, and video clips from individuals with disabilities, students, teachers, principals, researchers, parents, teacher trainers and others across the USA for possible inclusion in the celebration. submissions for the celebration will be accepted through November 8, 2010 on OSERS' 35th anniversary of IDEA Web site.