Friday, September 10, 2010

Fast Fact Friday: Low Incidence Disability

Broadly defined, a "low incidence disability" is one in which the rate of occurrence is extremely small. California, for example, specifically defines "low incidence disability" as "a severe disabling condition with an expected incidence rate of less than one percent of the total statewide enrollment in kindergarten through grade 12." California Education Code section 56026.5.

Some examples could include:
  • Blindness
  • Visual Impairment
  • Deafness
  • Hard of hearing
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Severe cognitive delay
  • Serious physical disability / impairment
  • Significant / complex health related conditions
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Autism
In some instances, designation of "low incidence" may attach certain funding resources that are not otherwise applicable for services and equipment. Further, states may have specific data collection requirements related to students with low incidence disabilities.

Some low incidence disabilities may present unique challenges related to providing staff who are trained and qualified to assess those particular students and provide them with instruction and services. However, these students have the same right to a free appropriate public education under the I.D.E.A. as any other eligible student.

The fact that a student is categorized as having a "low incidence" disability cannot be the basis of a determination that he/she should be removed from the regular educational environment. Rather,
"the process for determining the educational placement for children with low-incidence disabilities is the same process used for determining the educational placement for all children with disabilities. That is, each child's educational placement must be determined on an individual case-by-case basis depending on each child's unique educational needs and circumstances, rather than by the child's category of disability." Comments and discussion to 2006 IDEA Part B Regulations, 71 Fed. Reg. 46586 (2006).


  1. I always have a concern with attaching funding streams to an IEP outcome. In this case, the finding of a low-incidence disability. It makes it too easy to have the cart leading the horse. Instead of the evidence leading to the conclusion, the desired outcome leads the process. "If I need to tap into this funding source, then I already know that I need to ____."
    California is horrible in this regard.

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