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Technical Brief: Access, Participation, and Progress in the General Curriculum


Chuck Hitchcock, Anne Meyer, David Rose, and Richard Jackson


National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum (NCAC)




The 1997 IDEA amendments stipulate that students with disabilities are entitled to access, participation, and progress within the general education curriculum. This language offers greater potential educational opportunities for students with disabilities than ever before. The conception, design, and implementation of the general curriculum and the assumptions that underlie it are the most important determinants of whether students with disabilities can access, participate, and progress within in. The most critical step is to change the curriculum itself and create a curriculum that is better for all students, including those with disabilities. The challenge for educators of students with disabilities is a moving target. As one barrier is overcome, another arises. This changing nature of barriers reflects progress towards true access, participation, and progress. Universal design for learning (UDL) is discussed as a theoretical framework to guide the design and development of learning environments that represent materials in flexible ways and offers a variety of options for learners to comprehend information, demonstrate their knowledge and skills, and be motivated to learn. Lastly, resources to learn more about the National Center for Accessing the General Curriculum, IDEA, and UDL are provided.

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Hitchcock, C., Meyer, A., Rose, D., & Jackson, R. (2002). Access, participation, and progress in the general curriculum. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum. (Links updated 2009) Retrieved [insert date] from

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