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Introduction to Special Education

What is Special Education?

Special Education is a program designed to meet the unique educational needs of individuals with disabilities from birth to 22 years of age who meet the eligibility criteria under the law. It is defined as, "Special Education,” in accordance with Section 1401(29) of Title 20 of the United States Code, means specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parent, to meet the unique needs of individuals with exceptional needs, including instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, and other settings, and instruction in physical education."  

—California Education Code: Article 2. Definitions [56031.(a)]

What is the Eligibility Criteria?

There are thirteen eligibility categories for special education.

1.   Autism
2.   Deaf-Blindness
3.   Deafness
4.   Emotional Disturbance
5.   Hearing Impaired
6.   Intellectual Disability
7.   Multiple Disabilities
8.   Orthopedic Impairment
9.   Other Health Impairment
10. Specific Learning Disability
11. Speech or Language Disability
12. Traumatic Brain Injury
13. Visual Impairment, including Blindness

Special Education Resources

SELPA Local Plan