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Online resource empowers people with disabilities

April 17, 2013

Since it began in the 1980s, FHI 360’s National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities has provided millions of people with valuable resources and answers to a wealth of disability-related questions. This primarily online center serves all U.S. states and territories and is known by its historic acronym, NICHCY.

NICHCYThe website, which was visited more than 2.4 million times in 2012, contains information on programs and services for infants, children and youth with disabilities; IDEA, the nation’s special education law; and effective-practices research. The resources are available at no cost, are copyright-free and are accessed by journalists, families, administrators, educators and students.

Teachers — who are facing an environment of increasing demands and decreasing funds — use the site to find information about specific disabilities, student behavior issues, effective instruction methodologies and best practices for supporting children with special needs.

“I am a faculty member in special education, and I assign this website for my students to visit, read and use as a resource. I use this as a resource for teachers, administrators and families,” said one user who commented on the site.

The NICHCY site covers topics such as parental rights and U.S. laws, answers to frequently asked questions and information on relocating with a child who has special needs. In addition, the State Organizations section and National Organizations Gateway connect users to disability advocacy groups, state agencies, parent groups, and health care and mental health services.

Many children with disabilities have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that provide them with accommodations and other services in school. NICHCY’s detailed research includes such topics as assessment and accommodation, effective instruction, social skills and academic achievement to help members of an IEP team determine the best interventions for a student.

One parent wrote about how the site helped her navigate the IEP process. “I love your site and often tell other parents about it. I have looked into the law and used it in my son's IEP meeting. I have also used several links and resources. This is a great place for reliable information.”

Photo credit: Jessica Scranton