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Important Disability Terminology, Acronyms, and Definitions

For many, the terms used in, and about special education are unfamiliar. Learning these unfamiliar terms, and the commonly used acronyms that represent them, can help in navigating the special education and 504 processes. This list is intended to help familiarize you with common terms, definitions, and acronyms that are frequently used in the disability space. Education definitions may differ from state to state. The acronyms and terminology below is reflective of definitions most commonly in education at the national level.
three wooden blocks with the letters I, E, P on them
Published: April 6, 2023

Join Our Movement

We ask only what is right: equal opportunity for every student, every educator, every family. At home, in school, online, in Washington–there’s a right place for all of us to make a difference.
Young Child Signing

Supporting Individuals with Disabilities

The 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.
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.