Special needs are the individualized care that a person with a disability - whether physical, mental, behavioral, emotional, or learning difficulties - requires to ensure their safety, access to public amenities, or ability to succeed in certain contexts. This individualized care might include accommodations or services, and persons with special needs are guaranteed this care in certain contexts.
Many public amenities - such as schools, places of employment, transportation services, government programs or services, and commercial facilities, among others - must make reasonable efforts to accommodate a person’s special needs. This is due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in many of the areas that are most closely tied to public life.
[Last updated in August of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]