The National Advocate for People with Down Syndrome Since 1979

National Down Syndrome Society
8 E 41st Street, 8th Floor
New York New York 10017

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a critical piece of civil rights legislation that details the rights of a child with a disability to a “free, appropriate, public education” (FAPE) in the “least restrictive environment” (LRE) and provides a mechanism for due process if a violation of these rights has taken place.

As part of FAPE, the child is entitled to an Individualized Education Program (IEP) with the special education and related services that are necessary to enable the child to be involved in, and make progress in, the general education curriculum and to meet each of the child's other educational needs that result from the child's disability. The IEP also determines the educational setting of the child. The LRE provisions of IDEA require the child to be educated in regular education classes in the school where he or she would have gone if not for the disability (usually the school closest to home), unless the child cannot be educated satisfactorily in that setting even with supplementary aids and services to provide the support that may be needed.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Federal Inititiatives

NDSS has taken a leadership role in promoting the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act, which would restore parents’ rights to be reimbursed for expert fees when they prevail in due process. The US Supreme Court recently determined that this right is not explicit in IDEA. While consideration of the bill has been delayed in Congress, NDSS continues to obtain grassroots support and cosponsors for the bill. In 2011 NDSS shared a list of key issues for the next IDEA reauthorization with the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

NDSS has also provided technical assistance as a member of advisory panels for four US Department of Education-funded multi-year centers: state monitoring of IDEA, measuring student progress in the curriculum, alternate assessment and accessible reading assessments.

NDSS Resources

External Resources

  • Buddy Walk
  • NDSS Yourway
  • NDSS DS-Ambassadors