Section 504

Section 504

Section 504 is the “umbrella” civil rights law covering persons who have a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.”  Under Section 504, “major life activities” include caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, reading, writing, calculating math problems, concentrating, interacting with others, learning and working.

Parents typically ask for services under Section 504 when: 

  • their child has a chronic medical condition, such as asthma or diabetes, that is not covered by the IDEA or
  • their child has a disability covered by IDEA, such as ADHD or a mild learning disability, but who does not require IDEA services to benefit from their education. 

Often students protected under Section 504 have “hidden disabilities”, which include low vision, poor hearing, heart disease, or a chronic illness, such as cancer. The U.S. Dept. of Education (ED) has a pamphlet available that discusses The Civil Rights of Students with Hidden Disabilities and cites specific examples of how the educational needs of these students can be addressed under Section 504.

A student who uses a wheelchair, but who has no neurological impairment, is a good example of a student who may best benefit from their education under the provisions of Section 504.  Section 504 would require the school to provide accessible transportation to and from school, as well as necessary accommodations in the classroom and the building.  Accommodations could include using a tape recorder to take notes to compensate for writing difficulties and extra time to get from one class to the next.  This student may not need the more comprehensive special education services provided under IDEA to benefit from his or her education.

Texas Project First
Section 504 Resource Guide
Procedural Safeguards

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