Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching & Learning


Three research questions provided a focus for this study: (1) What is the historical foundation in relation to federal mandates which have an impact upon the education of handicapped individuals? (2) What are the differences and, correspondingly, the interdependencies in the selected major federal laws that impact upon the education of handicapped individuals? and (3) What are the broad perspectives and implications of this information upon the education of handicapped individuals?

The answers to these research questions were accomplished by: (1) A brief overview of all education legislation that affects the handicapped individual, (2) Selection of four major federal laws that affect the education of the handicapped, (3) Analysis of these four major federal laws by five analysis criteria, and (4) A comparison and contrast of each law and each analysis criterion.

The four major laws selected for analysis were (1) Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-112); (2) Developmentally Disabled Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 1974 (P.L. 94-103); (3) Education of All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (P.L. 94-142); and (4) Education Amendments of 1978, which include the Gifted and Talented Children's Education Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-561).

The five major categories used in the analysis were: (1) Eligibility Criteria, (2) Procedural Safeguards, (3) Services Provided. (4) Program Accountability, and (5) Finding Provisions.

The findings from the study of this legislation resulted in the following conclusions: (1) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.1. 93-112) was found to have the most comprehensive eligibility criteria and procedural safeguards; and (2) the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (P.L. 94-142) was found to have the most comprehensive educational services, program accountabilities, and funding provisions. An overall conclusion that was drawn from the analysis was that there are more similarities than differences in the four laws analyzed and there do not appear to be any conflicting mandates.

Several recommendations resulted from this study. Two of the recommendations that resulted from this study were: (1) New legislation or legislative amendments should be introduced to the Congress that would require all definitions of handicapped conditions to be based on functional limitations; and (2) College educational programs should offer courses which include information on legislation in relation to special education.