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Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Title III—Key Components for Inclusion of Children with Disabilities

Regulations extend to public and private schools and non-publicly funded programs such as child care centers, preschools, before and after school programs, and other community programs.

  • Centers cannot exclude children with disabilities from their programs unless their presence would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others or require a fundamental alteration of the program.

  • Centers have to make reasonable modifications to their policies and practices to integrate children, parents, and guardians with disabilities into their programs unless doing so would constitute a fundamental alteration.

  • Centers must provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services needed for effective communication with children or adults with disabilities when doing so would not constitute an undue burden.

  • Centers must generally make their facilities accessible to individuals with disabilities. Existing facilities are subject to the readily achievable standard for barrier removal, whereas newly constructed facilities and any altered portions of existing facilities must be fully accessible.

  • Publicly funded programs such as Early Head Start and Head Start may not exclude children with disabilities, provided that they meet the criteria for inclusion, such as family income level.

  • Practitioners should inform families and facilities of the ADA regulations and assist in recommending appropriate accommodations to aid in inclusion.

Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)

Rights of Children and Families

  • Zero reject

    • To qualify under this law, the child must have one of the 13 qualifying disabilities, and that disability must impact the child's education.

    • All children regardless of severity of disability are provided with an education.

  • Least restrictive environment

    • Children should be educated in the same settings as typical age-matched peers to the maximum extent possible.

  • Right to due process

    • Parents have the right to an impartial hearing, the right to representative counsel, and a right to a transcript of the meetings.

  • Nondiscriminatory evaluation

    • All tests and measures must not be biased to race or culture and must be given in the child's native language when necessary.

  • Parent participation

    • Parents are encouraged to participate in the educational plan for their child; they also have the final power of acceptance or may appeal.

  • Related services

    • IDEA provides for the special education and related services that are needed for a child to obtain FAPE (see later).

    • These services include occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech and language therapy, audiology, transportation, orientation and mobility, and medical diagnostic services for evaluation only.

  • "Free and Appropriate Education" (FAPE) for children with disabilities

  • IDEA—Part C

    • Purpose: To enhance the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities, to minimize their potential for developmental delay, and to recognize the significant brain development that occurs during a child's first 3 years of life.

    • Documentation: The IFSP (Individual Family Service Plan/Program) is a family-led document that includes areas of strengths, needs, resources, major ...

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