Janie Gainey Darden, 80, a retired teacher who worked to provide education for handicapped children in the District of Columbia, died Wednesday at Howard University Hospital. She had been suffering from a heart ailment.

Mrs. Darden was born in Fayetteville, N.C. She graduated from what is now Fayetteville State University and then taught in school in Rocky Mount, N.C. She moved to Washington in 1924 with her late husband, the Rev. Herman Darden.

She began her teaching career in the D.C. public school system in the early 1930s and specialized in helping children with physical handicaps. She was the first director of the visiting teachers' corps, which provided instruction to children who were unable to attend schools because of handicaps. She supported efforts in Congress to establish what is now the Sharpe Health School in Washington.

She resigned from the school system in the early 1940s. From 1948 to 1964, when she retired, she was a teacher at the Toddlers Socialized School, a private school for preschool age children.

In addition to her work in education, Mrs. Darden was a member of the Galbraith AME Zion Church in Washington for more than 50 years. She was a member of the church's Stewardess board No. 2, of its Home and Foreign Missionary Society, and of its Sunday school.

Mrs. Darden also was a member of the YWCA, the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, Inc., the Opportunity Club, the Federation of Negro Women, the National Council of Negro Women, the Good Neighborhood Club of Irving Street, the Pleasand Plains Civic Association and the Salvation Army-Washington Sherman Corps.

Survivors include five children, Catherine D. Horn, of Silver Spring, Herman Jr., of Washington, Orlando W. Sr., of Washington, M. Norman, of New York, and Jonetta D. Darden, a granddaughter whom the family adopted after the death of her mother; 11 grandchildren, and six great grandchildren.