The new US Department of Education’s IDEA website is dedicated towards meeting the goals of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (also referred to as IDEA). The new site aims to bring IDEA resources and information from the Department of Education and grantees on to one platform. IDEA is the law that ensures the availability of free and appropriate public education to children with disabilities. It also ensures the availability of special education and other associated services to such children.
The Department had been directed by Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education, to expedite the development of an updated, new, and more robust IDEA site after IDEA 2004 (Legacy) website had experienced an extended outage in February.
New Web-Site Features
• Improved Design and Site Navigation –The design has been simplified and updated to make the interface more intuitive. The new website is now more visually appealing, and involves fewer clicks as you look for what you want.
• Expanded Search Options — The search capabilities have not only been maintained but updated so that it reflects the updated regulations and statute. The search options now include policy documents, such as FAQs, Policy Letters, OSEP memos, and Dear Colleague letters.
• Specific Audiences Resources — The new website highlights resources for various stakeholders groups. These include specific resources for families/parents, service providers/educators, and grantees. A Language Support page has been created for non-English speakers that link to a grantee’s resources that are in Spanish. An additional page with information on the Department’s language assistance has also been created.
• Streamlined Resources and Expanded Content — The new website has responded to calls for expanded content, and better streamlining of the site’s resources. The “Our Topic Areas” page has now been reworked to cover more topics that have updated information and links that reflect Federal Department and Office of Special Education Programs resources (OSERS). The site now has links to existing Annual Performance Reports/State Performance Plans, grant award letters, and data reports. Also highlighted are resources and laws related to persons with disabilities that fall under the purview of other Federal and Departments agencies. Also part of the updated website is a list of acronyms and terms that are frequently-used.
Who Benefits from IDEA?
Over two months were spent by OSERS in collecting useful feedback from educators, parents, service providers, administrators, and advocates representing the youth with disabilities, children, toddlers, and infants on what they wanted to appear on the new Website.
The IDEA website is useful to parents, students, service providers, educators, and grantees that care about children with disabilities and their families. It is important for those seeking information, and people who want to explore resources related to youth with disabilities, children, infants, and toddlers.
The Way Forward
Relevant content that was available on the Legacy site has now been transitioned into the new website. The Legacy site remains available online while the new IDEA website continues to be refined. The Department continues improving the new website through incorporating feedback coming from all IDEA stakeholders. The Department welcomes feedback as they continue enhancing and developing the functionality and content of the new IDEA website.