Education: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act


Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

Students must have a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities or bodily functions; have a record of such impairment; or be regarded as having such an impairment. Major Life Activities: Major life activities include such things as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, sleeping, bending, concentrating, thinking, communicating, reading, eating or completing manual tasks.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is designed to protect the civil rights of individuals with disabilities. The intent of the law is to prevent any form of discrimination based on disabilities.

How Does Section 504 Define “Disabled”? To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to:

  • have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
  • have a record of such an impairment; or
  • be regarded as having such an impairment.

How does the 504 Act help the person with a disability or family support system?

The benefits of Section 504: There are innumerable accommodations that may be necessary for students on an individual basis under Section 504. Because the disabilities resulting in students being eligible are so broad, the number and types of accommodations are endless. The key is that necessary accommodations are made that provide the opportunity for identified students to be successful, by leveling the playing field. Many accommodations are merely best-teaching practices. Contact your child’s school-based 504 Designee for more information.

  • Accommodations provide a level playing field and equal access for students with disabilities
  • Accommodations in the classroom setting:
    • Individualized accommodations
    • Physical environment
    • Instructional materials
    • Instructional methods
    • Testing
    • Homework
  • Protection from discrimination:
    • Academically
    • Access to activities
    • Program access
    • Discipline
  • John M. McKay Scholarship Program
  • Equal access • Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

How can a parent/caregiver gain access to this service?

Students can be referred for Section 504 evaluation by teachers, administrators and/ or parents or guardians. To do this, con- tact your school 504 designee. You will receive notice of the referral and must provide written consent before a Section 504 evaluation can be conducted.

Evaluation: The Section 504 evaluation consists of gathering information from a variety of sources including achievement tests, teacher reports, discipline referrals, health information, parent information, student grades, and reports from outside providers when available.

Placement: Once information has been gathered, a Section 504 Team will convene to discuss the information and to determine Section 504 eligibility. If eligible, the Team will create a 504 Plan for your child. The plan will be distributed to all pertinent school personnel who will implement it. In the context of Section 504, “placement” refers to the regular education classroom with individually identified accommodations.

Accommodations: will be written to address the needs of each individual student, based on her/his disability. The intent of an accommodation is to provide your child with the same access to education as other students without disabilities. They are not in- tended to give them an advantage or to modify the state curriculum.

Examples of Common Accommodations:
  • Preferential seating
  • Shortened assignments
  • Modified assignments (but not academic content)
  • Note taking assistance
  • Extended time for assignments or tests
  • Behavior Plans
  • Transportation
  • Health plans
  • Provide a peer tutor/helper
  • Modify PE and Recess

Recommended websites, YouTube videos, books on this topic:

A Parent and Teacher Guide to Section 504: For Frequently Asked Questions. Click Here

Written by: Debra Neeson Okell, ADA/504 Specialist Department of Exceptional Student Education School District of Palm Beach County