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Volume 6, Issue 1 (1977)

History of Federal Legislation Dealing With Children With Specific Learning Disabilities

pp. 53—61

On November 29, 1975, President Ford signed P.L. 94-142, the “Education of All Handicapped Children Act,” into law. The act provides that all handicapped children receive a free appropriate education designed to meet their unique needs. In using the word “all,” the Congress clearly intended that no disability group be denied services. Congress was also sensitive to the nationwide confusion that exists regarding the classification of specific learning disabilities and took some unique action. As there was neither universal acceptance of a single definition of specific learning disability (SLD) nor consistency among the states with respect to eligibility and diagnostic procedures, the Congress acknowledged the problem by mandating the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped to promulgate federal regulations and guidelines which would detail exactly what is and what ti not an SLD. In one sense, the congressional directive climaxed a federal effort begun in 1969 on behalf of specific learning-disabled children; in another, it marks a beginning of eligibility for educational opportunities and services for thousands of specific learning-disabled children who were previously denied services.

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