by John Darer® CLU ChFC MSSC RSP CLTC
The Education for All Handicapped Children Act, P.L. 94-142, (also known as the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA), was signed into law on November 29, 1975, by the late President Gerald Ford.
It may be hard to believe for some, but years ago children with disabilities were referred to in legal decisions as imbeciles. If a child was mentally retarded, by statute, the child had no right to an education. If a child was in a wheelchair, the child was a fire hazard and excluded from public school.(Source: Wright Law Firm)
“It bears remembering that, prior to 1975, children in the United States with intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities and even sensory disabilities were not guaranteed access to a public education. Today, in America, we recognize that people with disabilities – like all people – have unique abilities, talents, and aptitudes. And that America is better, fairer, and richer when we make full use of those gifts.” Iowa Senator Tom Harkin November 18, 2010
As an uncle of a child with Asperger's, who has developed into a fine young man; as someone who has friends and cousins who have children on the autism spectrum; as someone who has provided settlement planning, financial advice and solutions to individuals and families settling claims and lawsuits who have children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews with profound disabilities, I am grateful that our country has such a law. I am also grateful to those members of Congress who continue to support such laws and those advocates around the USA who work tirelessly to assure that such children and their families are aware of and actually get the benefits they deserve.
For more information about the history of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) please watch this excellent and information video celebrating 35 years of IDEA.