In the late 1940s and 1950s, local Arc groups were involved in establishing and operating special classes. Parents and parent groups began to organize and took their issues to the courts and the legislatures of the nation.
In the 1950s, a series of federal legislative provisions established grants for research and training of personnel in the education of children with disabilities. Some states began to adopt special education provisions. For instance, in 1957, Minnesota required public school districts to provide special instruction and services for children with certain disabilities.
On many fronts, the most important educational event of the 1950s was Brown vs. The Board of Education. The court ruled that the right and opportunity to an education must be made available to all on equal terms. The "all" at that point meant people of "all races".
Brown made no reference to children with disabilities. It did, however, provide the basis for 1971 and 1972 court decisions in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., which extended the right to a free public education to children with disabilities.