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The Laws that Govern the Rights of Children with Disabilities

There are several federal laws that have been enacted to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities, including children. State laws are also in place to ensure protection of the those rights, and may govern if they provide greater protection than federal laws.

Although this website does not discuss states laws, families can learn more about the laws in their states by contacting a local PTI (parent training and information center).

Official Federal Websites

Americans with Disabilities Act Home Page

The US Department of Justice hosts this site, full of information about the American with Disabilities Act. The "Introduction to ADA" page is helpful, as is the "Topics of Interest" page.

Building the Legacy: IDEA 2004

This site provides information on major topics covered by IDEA 2004. It has excellent video clips on Early Intervening Services/RTI, Individualized Education Program, Discipline, Highly Qualified Teachers, Procedural Safeguards, and other important topics. is a comprehensive online resource designed to provide people with disabilities with quick and easy access to the information they need. With just a few clicks, the site provides access to disability-related information and programs available across the government on numerous subjects, including benefits, civil rights, community life, education, employment.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Data Accountability Center

This website funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education provides public access to data about children and youth with disabilities served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Section 504 (U.S. Department of Education-Office of Civil Rights)

This site has useful information on Section 504 Plans, accommodations, and
related services. It covers information on documentation of disability as well as procedural safeguards required under Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Social Security Administration: Benefits for Children with Disabilities

This site is a publication from the Social Security Administration detailing benefits available from SSA for children with disabilities. It is clearly written and it is clearly an essential resource.

Social Security Administration's Supplemental Security Income Page

The homepage for information about SSI (Supplemental Security Income) from the Social Security Administration, this site provides information about SSI benefits. Its presentation is good and may be quite valuable for parents whose children are approaching adulthood. SSA has also provides Disability Starter Kits (in English and Spanish) to help families prepare to apply for SSI benefits for their child.

The website now features a special page Understanding Supplemental Security Income. It's easy to read and answers a lot of questions. There is a page specifically about SSI for children.

US Department of Education/Office for Civil Rights

Another branch of the US Department of Educaiton, the Office for Civil Rights has a mandate to protect the civil rights of children in public schools. It is worth it to explore the whole site, but the special section on "Disability Discrimination" may be of greatest interest to families of children with disabilities.

US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)

The OSEP (Office of Special Education Programs) homepage features articles of interest and has links to publications, studies and special programs. It is a good way to keep current on trends and resarch in special education from an official point of view.

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Advocacy Sites

Because legislation is often written in language that is difficult to understand, there are organizations whose mission it is to advocate for children with disabilities and their families. In addition to the list below, it is always a good idea to check with a nearby parent training and information center (PTI) for local advocacy resources.


TASH has been advocating for the rights of people with disabilities for over 25 years. The site is not focused on children's issues nor is it informational, but it does provide information about the work that TASH does within the disability community.

Axis (Disability advocacy)

Norm Kunc and Emma Van der Klift are Canadian husband and wife disability advocates who also provide disability-awareness trainings (Norm has cerebral palsy). Their site has a multitude of helpful links and includes information on issues such as sexuality and abuse not often available on other sites.

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

The Bazelon Center is a non-profit legal advocacy organization. This site is essential for families with children with mental disabilities. It is informative and brings important mental health resources together in one place.

Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA)

Parents and legal professionals work together to provide advocacy for families of children with disabilities on this site. Good links to information about IDEA and Section 504 and to news about special education law.

Family Voices

Family Voices is a national grassroots network of families and friends speaking on behalf of children with special health care needs. Their site provides links to their wonderful publications, newsletters and advocacy alerts. Information is also available in Spanish.

Institute for Child Health Policy

This is a good site to visit for information about research and policy issues for children with special health care needs.

National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems, Inc. (NAPAS)

A voluntary national membership association of protection and advocacy and client assistance sytems (congressionally-mandated agencies that provide advocacy and legal representation to people with disabilities). The NAPAS site contains information about legal rights of individuals with disabilities and provides links to their Client Assistance Programs in every state.


Wrightslaw is a source of accurate and reliable information about special education laws and advocacy for children with disabilities. The website provides information on most of the disabilities, several special education topics such as RTI, high-stake testing, procedural safeguards, inclusion and early intervention.

The resources on these pages are for your information. These listings are not necessarily comprehensive, nor are they an endorsement. If you find that any information is incorrect, if you would like to offer feedback or if you know of additional resources that may be helpful to include, please contact us.

This page was last updated July 16, 2014 .

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