Carol Vollnogle, Director of Student Services

The nation’s special education law is called the Individuals with Disabilities Act, or IDEA. As part of making special education and related services available to children with disabilities in the public schools, IDEA defines the term “child with a disability.” That definition includes specific disability terms, which are also defined by IDEA.

The IDEA’s disability terms and definitions define disability and who is eligible for a free appropriate public education under special education law. The definitions of these specific disability terms from the IDEA regulations are shown below. Note, in order to fully meet the definition and eligibility for special education and related services as a “child with a disability,” a child’s educational performance must be adversely affected due to the disability.

Whose IDEA is This? A Parent's Guide to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA)

If you have any questions regarding the special education program, please contact Carol Vollnogle at 330-426-5307.

Child Find

Child Find is the process of identifying, locating and evaluating children with disabilities who may be in need of special education and related services. Public schools, under federal and state mandates, provide a free and appropriate education for all children, age birth through 21, who have a disability. If you are aware of a child who may have special needs, please contact Carol Vollnogle at 330-426-5307.


ACCOMODATIONS: Accommodations are instructional techniques, additional supports or specialized services to help a student make progress or demonstrate learning.

ADAPTED PHYSICAL EDUCATION (APE): Physical education which may be adapted or modified to address the individualized needs of children and youth who have gross motor delays.

ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW: A meeting where you may present complaints to the superintendent of your school district regarding your child’s evaluation, educational placement, or the provision of special education. 

ANNUAL REVIEW: A scheduled meeting of school staff members and parents to develop, review, and revise a student's IEP goals and objectives and to determine the appropriateness of new or continued services.

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY: Assistive technology is defined as “any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities."

CASE CONFERENCE: An informal meeting that allows you and/or your school district to review and interpret information regarding your child and his/her IEP in order to resolve problems.

CHILD FIND: children aged two through 21 years of age who may be in need of special education and related services.

CHILD WITH A DISABILITY: Those children evaluated and identified, in accordance with regulations governing special education, as having a cognitive disability (mental retardation), hearing impairments, speech or language impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, visual impairments, emotional disabilities, orthopedic impairments, other health impairments, severe disabilities, multiple disabilities, developmental delays, or specific learning disabilities and who, because of these disabilities, need special education and related services.

COUNSELING SERVICE: services provided by a qualified social worker, psychologist, guidance counselors, or other qualified personnel.

DUE PROCESS: A series of steps safeguarded by law (IDEA) that protect the rights of parents and their children with disabilities.

EARLY INTERVENTION: Specialized services provided to children, birth through age 2, who are at risk for, or showing signs of, developmental delay.

ELIGIBILITY MEETING: A meeting of professional staff members and the parents that considers the individual needs of a student and determines whether the student is eligible for special education and related services.

EVALUATION: Procedures used by a multidisciplinary team to determine whether a child has a disability and the nature and extent of the special education and related services the child needs.

EVALUATION TEAM REPORT (ETR): Documentation of determination of eligibility for special education. The individualized education program team shall prepare an evaluation report that include the reasons why the child qualifies for special education.

FREE APPROPRIATED PUBLIC EDUCATION (FAPE): Special Education and related services provided at public expense, under public supervision, and at no cost to parents. These services must meet the standards of the Ohio Department of Education and be provided through your child’s IEP.

GENERAL CURRICULUM: Refers to the curriculum that is used with non-disabled children.

HOME SCHOOL: The school that is in the community in which the child resides.

IDEA: Individuals With Disabilities Education Act

IDEIA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004

IMPARTIAL DUE PROCESS HEARING: Each school district shall provide parents and other educational agencies an opportunity to have an impartial due process hearing which may be requested at any time.

INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP): A written plan of measurable, annual goals including short-term objectives developed to meet your child’s needs according to federal and state regulations.

INTERPRETER SERVICES: Includes assisting learners with hearing impairments and deaf learners by providing interpretation in English and American Sign Language, transliteration in a manual form of coded English or other coded forms of English.

ITINERANT SERVICES FOR A PRESCHOOLER WITH A DISABILITY: Means services provided by intervention specialist or related services personnel, which occur in the setting where the child, the child and parent (s) or the child and caregiver are located as opposed to services provided at a centralized location.

LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT (LRE): The setting determined by the IEP team that gives the child as much time as possible in general education settings and activities while meeting the child's learning and physical needs. It also means that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of a child with disabilities from the general education environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

LOCAL EDUCATION AGENCY (LEA): The public school system (e.g., East Palestine City Schools).

MEDIATION: A meeting that may be held if efforts to resolve an issue have failed at the school district level or after a due processing hearing has been requested. A representative of the Ohio Department of Education may be asked to mediate the dispute.

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY (OT): Services provided by a qualified occupational therapist and includes improving, developing or restoring functions impaired or lost through illness, injury or deprivation, improving the ability to perform tasks for independent functioning if functions are impaired or list and preventing through early intervention, initial or further impairment or loss of function.

ORIENTATION AND MOBILITY SERVICE: Services provided to blind or visually impaired students by a qualified personnel to enable those students to attain systematic orientation to and safe movement within their environments in school, home, and community, etc.

PARAPROFESSIONAL SERVICE: Services provided by a school, county board or another educational agency who are adequately trained in the provision of special education and related services to children with disabilities. Paraprofessionals work under the supervision of teachers, intervention specialties, and/or related service providers.

PARENT: Means a natural or adoptive parent, the parent with legal custody of the children if the parents are separated or divorced, the guardian or custodian but not the state if the child is a ward of the state, a person acting in place of a parent (such as a grandparent or stepparent with whom the child loves or a person who is legally responsible for the child’s welfare, a surrogate parent who has been appointed in accordance with paragraph (I) of rule 3301-51-05 of the Administrative Code, or a child at the age of 18 may act in his or her own behalf.

PERIODIC REVIEW: Those activities involved in reviewing each child’s IEP and, if appropriate, revising its provisions. A meeting must be held for this purpose at least once a year.

PHYSICAL THERAPY (PT): Services provided by a qualified physical therapist. Emphasizes remediation of or compensation for mobility, gait, muscle strength, and postural deficits as it relates to the educational setting.

REEVALUATION: A review by the IEP team that is required every three years or more often if necessary. It determines if updated information used to decide continuing eligibility for special education is needed and the types of information needed to determine the individual needs of the student.

REFERRAL: Means the established process whereby the names of children suspected of having a disability condition that may require special education and related services are forwarded to a designated person, in writing, for a multi-factored and multidisciplinary evaluation.

RELATED SERVICES: Means transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education. It may include speech-language pathology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, school health services, etc.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: Specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parent, to meet the unique needs of a child with disabilities, including classroom instruction, instruction in physical education, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions. The term also includes speech therapy or any other related service and vocational education if they consist of specially designed instruction at no cost to the parent.

SPEECH AND LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY SERVICES: include identification of children with speech or language impairments, diagnosis and appraisal of specific speech or language impairments, referral for medical or other professional attention necessary for the habilitation of speech or language impairments, provision of speech and language services for the habilitation or prevention of communicative impairments and counseling and guidance of parents, children, and teachers regarding speech and language impairments.

STANDARDS (OHIO ACADEMIC CONTENT STANDARDS): The outline of the basic knowledge and skills that OHIO children will be taught in grades K- 12 in the core academic areas.

TRANSITION SERVICES: Means a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability that is designed within an outcome-oriented process that promotes movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational training, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living or community participation . . . etc.


Autism - A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3 that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term does not apply if a child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has a serious emotional disturbance. A child who manifests the characteristics of autism after age three could be identified as having autism if the requirements of the first two sentences of this definition are satisfied.

Cognitive Disability (CD) - (mental retardation) - Significantly below-average general intellectual capability that exists along with deficits in adaptive behavior (in other words, lack of ability to adapt). It is demonstrated during the child’s developmental period and negatively affects a child’s educational performance.

Deafness - A hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is unable to process language through hearing, with or without amplification, and the child’s educational performance is affected.

Emotional Disturbance (ED) - A condition showing one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a degree that it affects a child’s educational performance, resulting in:

  • An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors;
  • An inability to build or maintain satisfactory relationships with peers and teachers;
  • Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances; A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or
  • A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

The term includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have a serious emotional disturbance.

Hearing Impairment - Impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance, but that is not included under the definition of deafness.

Multiple Disabilities - Impairments that occur simultaneously (such as mental retardation-blindness and mental retardation-orthopedic impairment), the combination of which causes such severe educational problems that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. The term does not include deaf-blindness.

Orthopedic Impairment (OI) - A severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by congenital anomaly (e.g., clubfoot, absence of some member); impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis); and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputation, and fractures or burns that cause contractures).

Other Health Impairment (OHI) - Having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever or sickle cell anemia, and Tourette syndrome; and adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

Specific Learning Disability (SLD) - A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia. The term does not include children who have learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing or motor abilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage.

Speech or Language Impairment - A communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, language impairment or a voice impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) - An injury to the brain caused by external physical force or by other medical conditions, including but not limited to stroke, anoxia, infectious disease, aneurysm, brain tumors and neurological insults resulting from medical or surgical treatments. The injury results in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term applies to open or closed head injuries, as well as to other medical conditions that result in acquired brain injuries. The injuries result in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or brain injuries induced by birth trauma.

Visual Impairment Including Blindness - Impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness. Visual impairment for any child means:

  • A visual impairment, not primarily perceptual in nature, resulting in a measured visual acuity of 20/70 or poorer in the better eye with correction; or
  • A physical eye condition that affects visual functioning to the extent that special education placement, materials, and/or services are required in an educational setting.