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PEATC, Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center
Assisting families of children with special needs since 1978
Smiling Girl on the stairs

Service Words

Special Education has an entire vocabulary of its own! PEATC has compiled a list of service words that parents often inquire about when they call for assistance.

The list is by no means all inclusive but it gives families a start of some key verbiage that parents might hear when in a meeting for their child(ren) with disabilities.

ADA The Americans with Disabilities Act. A civil rights law for people with disabilities requiring accessibility to public buildings, accommodations and communication and making discrimination n employment illegal.
Assistive Technology Any piece of equipment or device that can help a person with a disability do what he or she wants to do.
CDDO Community Developmental Disability Organization – a regional organization that determines eligibility for developmental disability services, aids a qualifying individual to identify the services he or she needs, and provides a listing of area providers of those services.
Eligibility The determination that a person with a disability is qualified for a particular service or type of funding.
Functional Education Education that focuses on the skills needed for daily living. Training may include self-care such as toileting and feeding, cooking, using public transportation, handling money and finding and keeping a job.
Guardianship The formal legal appointment of a person or a corporation as the decision-maker for adult who has been established by a court as incompetent to make decision on his or her own behalf. Parents are guardians of their children until the child is 18 or an alternate guardian is appointed by a court.
ICC Infant-Toddler Coordinating Council - an interagency group who, with the aid of paid staff, work together to offer services to the families of young children with disabilities.
IDEA The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act - The federal law requiring schools to offer educational services to all children with disabilities from age 3 to 22.
IEP Individualized Education Program. An individualized plan of instruction describing the educational needs of a child with a disability and how and where those needs will be met.
IFSP Individualized Family Service Plan. A written plan for an infant or toddler with disabilities that describes the needs that a child has to enhance his or her development and how those needs will be met. The plan is written by the child’s parents and member of an interdisciplinary team chosen for their expertise in the child’s are of need.
Independent Living Center An organization dedicated to aiding people with disabilities to be as independent as possible.
In-Home Supports School based services that help a student with a disability benefit from special education. These services may include physical and occupational therapies, transportation, speech and language service and many others. The type and amount of services provided are based on the unique need of each student through the IEP process.
Person-centered Plan A plan to aid a person with a developmental disability to identify and reach his or her life goals.
Related Services Special services offered by the school to support the student’s special educational success. Some of these supports are physical or occupational therapy, speech-language therapy, and transportation.
Respite Care Skilled caregiving service that can be provided to the primary caregiver of a person with disabilities or a seriously ill person.
Section 504 The section of the federal rehabilitation act that requires that students with disabilities be given equal access to education. This law is less comprehensive than IDEA but offers similar benefits.
Special Education Specialized instruction tailored to fit the unique learning strengths and needs of the individual student with disabilities from age three through high school.
SSDI Social Security Disability Insurance – a federal payment rough Social Security for workers with disabilities.
SSI Supplemental Security Income – A federal program run by Social Security that provides monthly checks to persons who are elderly, blind or have disabilities.
Supported Work Experience A paid or unpaid work experience for a person with a disability where that worker receives on-the-job support by a job coach as needed for that worker to be successful.
Transition Council An interagency team of parents, students and professionals who work together to improve the movement of students with disabilities from high school into adult life.

References Special Education:

Families and Advocates Partnership for Education:

NICHCY- National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities:

Uniquely Gifted:

US Department of Education Logo The contents of this factsheet were developed under a grant from the US Department of Education, # H328M090002.
However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education, and you should
not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Project Officer, Lisa Gorove.

8003 Forbes Place, Suite 310
Springfield, VA 22151
703-923-0010 (phone)
800-869-6782 (toll free)

Copyright © 2020 PEATC - Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center. All rights reserved.

Content on this site was produced, in part, with grant funds from the U.S. Department of Education, under CFDA # 84.328M, #84.310A, and #84.235F. The content herein does not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Education, any other agency of the U.S. government, or any other source.

PEATC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit committed to building positive futures for Virginia's children by working collaboratively with families, schools and communities in order to improve opportunities for excellence in education and success in school and community life. Our special focus is children with disabilities. You can reach PEATC by calling 703-923-0010 (Voice/TTY), or sending an e-mail to

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