Understanding the Law

ADA, IDEA and Section 504


Three federal laws have applicability to dyslexic students:

ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act, first enacted in 1990 and then updated in 2008, prohibits unjustified discrimination based on disability. It is meant to level the playing field for people with disabilities, including those who are dyslexic.

IDEA

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, enacted in 1975 under a different name and then updated as IDEA in 1990 and updated again in 2004, is designed to ensure that students with a disability are provided a “Free Appropriate Public Education” tailored to their individual needs. One of the law’s pillars is that students with a disability are entitled to an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, that spells out the services to be provided. The law indicates 14 different categories to define students with a disability who should be guaranteed a free and appropriate public education. One of those 14 is the category of “special learning disability,” within which dyslexia is cited as an example.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

This is frequently applied in cases where students may not be provided with an IEP yet may require accommodations.

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