NEA supports the protections that all individuals with disabilities—both visible and invisible—are entitled to under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Individuals with disabilities include persons of all ages who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Although we don’t think of asthma or diabetes as a disability, individuals with such medical conditions and other non-apparent disabilities deserve the same consideration and protection under federal law.
Students with disabilities may or may not be eligible for special education services, as outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); however, those who are not eligible for special education services under IDEA are entitled to a free, appropriate education (FAPE) and are protected from discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The NEA supports a free, appropriate public education for all students with disabilities in a least restrictive environment (LRE), which must be determined by maximum teacher and parent/guardian involvement.
By working together, educators, students, families, and communities can help protect all individuals with disabilities from discriminatory practices and ensure that the necessary supports and services are provided so that all students receive a FAPE. As a champion of America’s public schools, the NEA promotes solution-oriented advocacy, professional learning, and information to bring much-needed support and resources to students, educators, and their families.