Additional Information on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is an anti-discrimination statute that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Section 504 requires evaluation, identification, provision of appropriate services, and procedural safeguards.
The Section 504 regulation requires school districts to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to each qualified student. Under Section 504, the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services is designed to meet the individual educational needs of individuals with disabilities as adequately as the needs of individuals without disabilities. The provision of FAPE under Section 504 provides equal access to education and is documented via a Section 504 plan. Classroom teachers and other general education staff are responsible for providing accommodations and/or services necessary for eligible students to participate in and benefit from public education, as developed by the Section 504 team.
Section 504 prohibits districts from the following (34 CFR Section 104.4):
Excluding an individual with a disability from participation in any district program or activity;
Denying an individual with a disability the benefits of any district program or activity;
Subjecting an individual with a disability to discrimination solely by reason of a disability.
The Section 504 regulatory provision of 34.C.F.R. 104.35(c) requires school districts to ensure the determination that a student is eligible for special education and/or related aids and services be made by a group of knowledgeable persons, including persons knowledgeable about the meaning of the evaluation data.
To be eligible under Section 504, a student must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
A physical or mental impairment refers to any physiological disorder or condition or any mental or psychological disorder.
Impairments which are episodic or in remission are a disability if they would substantially limit a major life activity when active.
Major life activities are activities that the average person in the general population can perform with little or no difficulty. Major life activities are functions including, but not limited to: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and operation of bodily functions. The Section 504 team may determine that another activity not listed herein is a major life activity for a student.
The Section 504 team must then determine if a student’s impairment substantially limits the performance of the identified major life activity, in comparison to the manner, condition, and duration that same age, non-disabled peers in the general population perform that major life activity.