Areas of Eligibility

Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The following defines each area of disability included in the Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities (Amended - June 2010), Public Schools of North Carolina, State Board of Education Department of Public Instruction: Exceptional Children Division, Section NC 1500 - 2.4 (b) (1-14).


Eligibility for Special Services

The Public Schools of North Carolina, Exceptional Children Division provides local educational agencies with detailed procedures for the delivery of special education services. These rules and regulations are detailed in the Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities. Services are provided under the following areas of eligibility: 


Autism (AU)

Autism (AU) is a developmental disability with differences in communication, social relationships, cognitive functioning, sensory processing, and/or behavior. Many students with Autism have average or above average intelligence. Others function in the range of mild to severe intellectual disability.

Deaf-Blindness (DB)

Deaf-blindness (DB) means hearing and visual impairments that occur together, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness. 

Deafness (DF)

Deafness (DF) means a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification that adversely affects the child’s educational performance.

Developmental Delay (DD)

Developmental delay (DD) means a child aged three through seven, whose development and/or behavior is delayed or atypical, as measured by appropriate diagnostic instruments and procedures, in one or more of the following areas: physical development, cognitive development, communication development, social or emotional development, or adaptive development, and who, by reason of the delay, needs special education and related services.

Hearing Impairment (HI)

Hearing impairment (HI) means an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness in this section.

Multiple Disabilities (MU)

Multiple disabilities (MU) means two or more disabilities occurring together (such as intellectual disability-blindness, intellectual disability-orthopedic impairment, etc.), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. Multiple disabilities does not include deaf-blindness. 

Orthopedic Impairment (OI)

Orthopedic impairment (OI) means a severe physical impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc.), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures, etc.).

Other Health Impairment (OHI) 

Other health impairment (OHI) means having limited strength, vitality or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette’s Syndrome, etc.; and adversely affects a child's educational performance.

Serious Emotional Disability (ED)

Serious emotional disability (hereafter referred to as emotional disability) (ED) means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child's educational performance:

  • An inability to make educational progress that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors;
  • An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers;
  • Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances;
  • A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression;
  • A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.
  • Serious emotional disability includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance as described. 
Specific Learning Disability (LD)

A Specific Learning Disability (LD) is a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the impaired ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.

Specific learning disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of serious emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

Speech-Language Impairment (SI) 

Speech or language impairment (SI) means a communication disorder, such as an impairment in fluency, articulation, language, or voice/resonance that adversely affects a child's educational performance.

Language may include function of language (pragmatic), the content of language (semantic), and the form of language (phonologic, morphologic, and syntactic systems). 

A speech or language impairment may result in a primary disability or it may be secondary to other disabilities.

Traumatic Brain Impairment (TB)

Traumatic brain (TB) injury means an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child's educational performance. Traumatic brain injury applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. Traumatic brain injury does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.

Visual Impairment (VI)

Visual impairment (VI) means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness. A visual impairment is the result of a diagnosed ocular or cortical pathology.

Intellectual Disabilities (ID)

Intellectual disability (ID) means significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning that adversely affects a child’s educational performance existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period.