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By 1977, The Arc US was arguing that most, but not all, of the options along the continuum of least restrictive environments should be included in the regular school:

  • The least restrictive environment for a child [with mild disabilities] might be the regular classroom. The majority of his educational programming could be conducted in this setting, with some specialized instruction coming from other professionals… In most cases these specialists can train the regular teacher to carry out the entire program…
  • For a student [with severe disabilities], the most normal environment possible might be a self-contained classroom within a school that serves children [without disabilities]. This type of arrangement would allow the individual to receive the highly structured instruction necessary for his progress, while still allowing him to be exposed to children [without disabilities].
  • Some children [with profound disabilities] may have problems so crippling that they are medically unable to attend classes in the traditional school setting because the trip to school endangers their lives.

The Arc US  also acknowledged that many children with severe and profound disabilities lived in residential institutions, where they had to same right to education under P. L. 94-142. State education agencies were required to assume at least general supervision of the educational programs within institutions. Those educational programs had to be provided in the least restrictive environment.

Children interacting
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.
Adults and children interacting
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D

In 1977, The Arc US recognized that it would take some time for the guarantees of P. L. 94-142 to be implemented in institutions. In 1981, The United States General Accounting Office soon realized that the implementation of P. L. 94-142 in the community would take some time.