The field of Exceptionalities is concerned with services and education for individuals who have unique needs, often due to disabilities. The field is broad; addressing lifespan concerns, and involving such services as special education, advocacy, family support, community services, and vocational and postsecondary education and support services. A number of common underpinnings serve as the foundations of the field, including the principles of normalization and social role valorization, social integration and community/school inclusion, natural community supports, a focus on lifestyle quality, and effective, data-based intervention practices. The need for professional expertise in the field of Exceptionalities has been growing since the early 1970’s when advocacy efforts resulted in litigation and legislation mandating the deinstitutionalization of thousands of children and adults with disabilities who were living in large institutions, free appropriate public education, vocational training, and other services. PL 101-336, the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), indicates that the advocacy movement is still pressing for full community inclusion of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of life.

These national policies have attracted the attention of nations throughout the world who look to the United States for leadership in the field of Exceptionalities. With this background, it is clear that the need for professionals with expertise in Exceptionalities is continuing to expand (internationally, nationally, regionally, and locally).