Legal Rights

The following material is excerpted from Inclusion and Parent Advocacy: A Resource Guide (c) 1996 Disability Resources, inc. – All Rights Reserved.

The descriptions of books and audiovisual materials in this guide include some legal and programmatic terminology which may be unfamiliar to librarians. The following brief guide to the legal basis for inclusion and some of the commonly used terms may be helpful.


Part I – The Legal Basis for Inclusion

The right of children with disabilities to be included in all aspects of American life has its roots in the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees equal protection under the law to all citizens.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990 (IDEA, P.L. 102-119) – formerly the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (EHA, P.L. 94-142) – guarantees that children with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). IDEA requires states to ensure that children with disabilities are educated with children who are not disabled, unless the nature of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. IDEA also mandates services for 3- to 5-year old children with disabilities, provides incentives for serving at-risk children from birth through 2 years old, and includes programs to aid students in transition from school to postschool activities.

The integration of individuals with disabilities into the mainstream of society is also fundamental to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA, P.L. 101-336). This landmark civil rights legislation guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.

It prohibits government agencies from providing services or benefits to individuals with disabilities through programs that are separate or different, unless separate programs are necessary to ensure that the benefits and services are equally effective. It also requires that private establishments such as stores, playgrounds, libraries, and day care centers provide goods and services in an integrated setting, unless separate or different measures are necessary to ensure equal opportunity.

The ADA is based in part on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination in any program or activity that receives federal funds.



Inclusion & Parent Advocacy; A Resource Guide is available on loan from many schools and libraries. It can also be purchased for small fee. Click here for more information.

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(c) 1997-2013 Disability Resources, inc.