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J Am Acad Audiol. 2010 Jul-Aug;21(7):426-40. doi: 10.3766/jaaa.21.7.2.

A case law review of the individuals with disabilities education act for children with hearing loss or auditory processing disorders.

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Department of Audiology, Speech-Language Pathology and Deaf Studies, Towson University, Towson, MD 21252, USA.



In 1975, Congress passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142), and it has been revised and modified several times. At the time of this writing, this law was most recently amended by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (Pub. L. No. 108-446, 118 Stat. 2647, December 3, 2004), which took effect on July 1, 2005. Colloquially the law is still referred to as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Children with hearing loss or auditory processing disorder (APD) may qualify for services under IDEA. However, a review of the literature found no review of case law for such children.


This article provides a comprehensive review of case law involving the IDEA and children with hearing loss or APD from the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. courts of appeals.


We conducted a systematic review of case law. A LexisNexis search for cases involving IDEA and children with hearing loss or APDs was conducted. For the purpose of the present case review, all appellate decisions (cases accepted by the U.S. courts of appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court) were included if they found that the child had hearing loss or APD, regardless of the reason for the appeal under IDEA. In the instance of multiple cases that involved the same two parties, these cases are summarized together to provide the legal context. Brief explanations of IDEA and the federal judicial process as it pertains to IDEA disputes are presented. Following these explanations, a chronological review of IDEA appellate cases concerning students with hearing loss or APD is provided.


The IDEA cases reviewed focus on three main issues: placement of the child, methodology of teaching, and the provision of services.


This case law review provides a helpful summary of higher court cases for educational audiologists and parents of children with hearing loss or APDs, as well as educators, individualized education program team members, school administrators, and legal representatives involved in IDEA cases.

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