Learning Support Services (IDEA)

IDEA—the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

Updated, May 2014
A legacy resource from NICHCY

In Spanish | En español


IDEA was originally enacted by Congress in 1975 to ensure that children with disabilities have the opportunity to receive a free appropriate public education, just like other children. The law has been revised many times over the years.

The most recent amendments were passed by Congress in December 2004, with final regulations published in August 2006 (Part B for school-aged children) and in September 2011 (Part C, for babies and toddlers). So, in one sense, the law is very new, even as it has a long, detailed, and powerful history.

This website is full of information about IDEA. We are pleased to connect you with:

  • Summaries of IDEA’s requirements, which shape what school systems do;
  • IDEA itself—to read IDEA’s exact words, you can either download a copy of the law and its regulations, or read them here online;
  • Guidance on IDEA from the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education; and
  • Training materials on IDEA that you can use to fully inform yourself and others.

Use the links above to find the type of information you’re looking for on IDEA. It’s a great law! Complicated, to be sure, but well worth understanding and implementing.

Summaries of IDEA

If you’re looking for summaries of what the law requires (rather than its word-for-word statute or regulations), let us point you to two other major sections of our website:

Services for babies and toddlers to the third birthday (Part C of IDEA)

Services for school-aged children, including preschoolers (Part B of IDEA)


Exact Words of IDEA Itself

To read IDEA’s verbatim language can be a big help in understanding why local practices in schools and early childhood settings are as they are. Here is the place to connect with that language. Use the links below to explore the actual words of our nation’s special education law.

Get a Copy of IDEA
Does your desk need a full copy of IDEA or its implementing regulations? Here’s where!

Part C of IDEA: Early Intervention for Babies and Toddlers
Under IDEA Part C, infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth-3) and their families receive early intervention services.

Part B of IDEA: Services for School-Aged Children
Children and youth (ages 3-22) receive special education and related services under Part B of IDEA. Find out all about this extremely critical part of the law.


Guidance on IDEA from the U.S. Department of Education

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education regularly provides guidance to the field on IDEA. All are intended to clarify elements of the law and its regulations, and are an important part of understanding IDEA and how to implement it. To connect with this federal guidance, visit:

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2022 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.