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Process Paper

When we began work on our History Day project, we immediately knew the topic that

interested us and related to the theme Breaking Barriers in History. The inspiration came from

people in our own lives and how they have been affected by the Individuals with Disabilities Act

(IDEA). We determined that our project was best presented on a website so we could incorporate

videos that show the human emotion when dealing with special needs and education.

We began researching by examining online databases. Finding primary sources was an

easy task as the government websites provided us with legal information and laws, while

personal interviews were from individuals with personal experiences. In order to develop our

understanding of IDEA, we read many secondary sources that discussed the impact on not only

education but the people. These sources helped us understand IDEA’s effect on public education.

We performed two interviews, one with a parent, Rachel Bass, and one with educator/parent, Lin

Schuster, our mothers. These interviews were great resources for us as they helped us understand

the influence IDEA has on families and educators alike.

We began with the historical context leading up to the Individuals with Disabilities

Education Act (IDEA) and how special education has changed through reauthorizations of the

law. Brown vs. Board of Education was the initial push ensuring every child receives a free,

equal, and proper education. Even though special education needs were not explicitly addressed

in this case, it opened the door for people with learning, emotional, and physical disabilities.

Specific laws, such as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, soon followed, and policies led to the

creation of IDEA. IDEA has undergone revisions from its initial inception but is still in practice
today. IDEA has continued to address equal access in public education and opened the door for

people with special needs.

One of the challenges of our project was the emotional connection we realized we had

with this topic. We found ourselves always amazed at how people have had to fight for equal

access to education in America. We are inspired by how our mothers have fought for their

children and others to be educated in the least restrictive environment. We are thankful for those

who continue to fight and have an influence on making education equal for all children and

Breaking Barriers.