IDEA lists 13 different disability categories under which disabled individuals aged 3 to 21 may be eligible for services. The IDEA’s disability terms and definitions guide how states define disabilities, clarifying the eligibility requirements for a free appropriate public education under special education law. The disability categories listed in IDEA are:
- Blindness & Deafness (have both)
- Emotional disturbance
- Hearing impairment
- Intellectual disability
- Multiple disabilities
- Orthopedic impairment
- Other health impairment (ex: ADHD, Epilepsy and etc. )
- Specific learning disability (such as dyslexia, dyscalculia,dysgraphia and other learning issues)
- Speech or language impairment
- Traumatic brain injury
- Visual impairment, including blindness
However, having one of the 13 disabilities listed above does not automatically qualify a child for services under IDEA. To qualify, an individual must have a disability and require special education in order to make progress in school due to their disability.
Example: A student may have an orthopedic impairment such as Cerebral Palsy and be confined to a wheelchair, but if the student is doing well in school, the child may not be covered by IDEA. Sometimes schools and parents disagree over whether a child is covered. When that happens, IDEA provides options for resolving the dispute. There are steps you can take if your child is denied services under IDEA. One option is to consider a 504 plan, which provides accommodations to help kids in school. 504 plans are covered by a different law called Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.