Special Education, History of

In the 21st century, children who live in the United States are offered a free appropriate public education up through the 12th grade. This offering extends to all children, including those with disabilities. However, this was not always the case. Prior to 1975, merely entering a school building or using public restroom facilities was not possible for many individuals with physical disabilities. Prior to 1975, the vast majority of children with physical, mental, and cognitive disabilities were institutionalized, privately educated, or cared for in their homes by parents and relatives. Acknowledging these challenges and noting changes across time, this entry provides an overview of historical events, important individuals, litigation, and federal legislation that led to the growth and development of special education services in U.S. ...

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