Chapter 1: Introduction to Inclusive Teaching

Study Guide Contents



Upon completion of this chapter the learner will:

  • Understand federal laws protecting the educational services for students with disabilities.
  • Compare and contrast the issues surrounding inclusive instruction for students with disabilities.
  • Analyze several important court cases relating to students with disabilities, presenting a progression of increasing rights for students with disabilities.
  • Describe the continuum of services available to students with special needs and the "least-restrictive environment" concept.
  • Identify the twelve disability categories served under IDEA.
  • Summarize and describe the legal foundations, litigation, and legislation of students with disabilities, such as IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), and Section 504 (Vocational Rehabilitation Act).

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Part 2: Summary of Ideas

All children including those with disabilities are entitled to a free, appropriate public education.


-Individuals with Disabilities Education Act


In 1975, Public Law 94-142 (IDEA) was passed. This law, and its subsequent amendments, established the rights of students with disabilities to a free, appropriate public education. It further provided that this education would take place, to the maximum extent possible, in the least restrictive environment. Prior to the passage of this law, students with special needs were routinely excluded from public school.

IDEA provides for special services for disability areas including autism, hearing impairments, mental retardation, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairments, other health impairments, serious emotional disturbance, specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, traumatic brain injury, visual impairments, and deaf-blindness. However, other groups of students may also require special adaptations by general education teachers, including students who are culturally or linguistically diverse, students at risk for school failure, and students with gifts or talents.

Other court rulings and federal laws, such as Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, have provided for nondiscriminatory treatment of individuals with disabilities.

Six important principles in IDEA include zero reject, nondiscriminatory testing, appropriate education, least restrictive environment, due process, and parent participation.

Present educational practice provides for a continuum of services for students with disabilities, from full-time placement in the regular education classroom, to special residential schools. Most students with disabilities today are served in regular education classrooms.

Some controversy today exists over the concept of "full inclusion," the full-time placement of students with disabilities in regular classrooms. Important points have been raised by concerned individuals on both sides of this issue.

Most teachers favor some form of inclusion for their own classes. However, teachers report a need for sufficient time, training, and resources in order to teach effectively in inclusive classrooms. When these supports are provided, attitudes toward inclusive teaching also improve.


Go to Part 3- Chapter Activities

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Chapter Activities


Students with disabilities must be educated in the setting least removed from the general education classroom.




Scan Chapter 1 and look for the following key concepts/ideas:

Public Law 94-142
Least Restrictive Environmment
Section 504
Americans with Disabilities Act
Continuum of Services
Arguments for and against inclusion




Read Chapter 1. Use the Chapter 1 Graphic Organizer to "map" concepts from this chapter. Fill in blank sections of the graphic organizer as an optional exercise to increase your comprehension of ideas.


Examine the following World Wide Web links and consider their perspectives based on information from Chapter 1.


Americans with Disabilities Act

Council for Exceptional Children

The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps


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