Know your rights
Did you know that the U.S. government has laws that make sure that kids with disabilities get a good education? The main one is called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This law makes public schools give all students with disabilities a free public education that is right for them. The education must meet the needs of each student with a disability at each stage of the student's education. This law also makes public schools write Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each student with a disability. The IEP talks about:
- The skills you need to learn
- What you'll be doing in school in the coming year
- What services and devices your school will give you to help you learn
- Where your learning will take place (whether in mainstream classes or special education classes)
Another important law for students with disabilities is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. This law states that reasonable accommodations must be made for students with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are changes that make it possible for you to succeed in school as a girl with a disability or illness. They can be things like:
- Having extra time to get from class to class
- Being seated in the front of the class
- Using a computer to take notes in class
- Having a test read to you
These reasonable accommodations will also be written into your IEP.
If you ever feel like you are the only student who has changes made at school just for you, keep this in mind: More than 5.5 million kids have disabilities in the United States. Though the special needs are different for each person, one thing is the same for all people with disabilities: the right to be protected from discrimination.
We are fortunate to have laws in the United States that protect people with illnesses and disabilities from discrimination. Some examples of disabilities and illnesses that are protected from discrimination include AIDS, cancer, cerebral palsy, and mental illness.
As a student, you have the right to:
- A free public education that meets your needs, whether those needs are special hearing tools, a certain type of desk, or certain types of therapy
- Be checked out by experts if you and your parents or guardians do not think your classes are right for you anymore
- Be around other kids at school who are not disabled
- Take part in writing your IEP, along with your teachers and parents or guardians. Read more about the Individualized Education Program (PDF - 457KB).
Content last reviewed February 16, 2011
Page last updated October 31, 2013