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Special Education Teachers


Modern special education traces its origins to 16th century Spain, where Pedro Ponce de Leon and Juan Pablo Bonet taught deaf students to read and write. It was not until the late 18th century that education for the blind was initiated. An early example was an institute for blind children in Paris that was founded by Valentin Huay. The first U.S. schools for the blind were founded in 1832 in Boston and New York.

By the early 19th century, attempts were made to educate the mentally handicapped. Edouard S├ęguin, a French psychiatrist, established the first school for the mentally handicapped in 1939 in Orange, New Jersey.

In the first half of the 20th century, special education became increasingly popular in the United States. By the 1960s and early 1970s, parents began to lobby state and local officials for improved special education programs for their children with disabilities. To address continuing inequities in the public education of special needs students, Congress passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142) in 1975. The act required public schools to provide disabled students with a "free appropriate education" in the "least restrictive environment" possible. The act was reauthorized in 1990 and 1997, and renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This act allows approximately 6 million children (roughly 10 percent of all school-aged children) to receive special education services from highly trained special education teachers.