Appendix table 1-1. Federal definitions of special education disability categories

Specific learning disability. A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations; this includes perceptual handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain disfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia, but does not include learning problems resulting from visual, hearing, or motor handicaps, or from mental retardation.

Seriously emotionally disturbed. Exhibition of behavior disorders over a long period of time that adversely affect educational performance; this includes an inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors; an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers; inappropriate types of behaviors 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.

Speech impaired. Communication disorders, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, and language or voice impairments, that adversely affect educational performance.

Mentally retarded. Significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning with concurrent deficits in adaptive behavior that were manifested in the development period and that adversely affect educational performance.

Visually impaired. A visual impairment that, even with correction, adversely affects educational performance, including students who are partially sighted or completely blinded.

Hard of hearing. A hearing impairment, permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects educational performance but that is not included in the deaf category.

Deaf. A hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, which adversely affects educational performance.

Orthopedically impaired. A severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects educational performance, including those caused by congenital anomaly, disease, or other causes.

Other health impaired. Limited strength, vitality, or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems that adversely affect educational performance (includes autistic students).

Multiply handicapped. Concomitant impairments, the combination of which causes such severe educational problems that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments (does not include deaf/blind).

Deaf/blind. Concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational problems that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for deaf or blind students.



SOURCE: SRI International. 1991. Youth With Disabilities: How Are They Doing? The First Comprehensive Report from the National Longitudinal Transition Study of Special Educational Students. Washington, DC: SRI International.

Women, Minorities, and Persons With Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 1996


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