Apr 27, 2005 — Public schools are playing a bigger role in the lives of people with disabilities. Federal law requires that schools provide children and young adults with a free and appropriate education until the age of 21. Sometimes that means a therapist helping a student for an hour each week with a speech problem. In rare cases, kids need full-time, one-on-one assistance, or even a residential program. In New York state, roughly a quarter of the average school district's budget now goes to helping students with special needs. With education budgets strained and local property taxes a subject of controversy, spending for disability programs is often controversial. But as Brian Mann reports, new resources and better teaching strategies are helping young people achieve goals that once would have been inconceivable.