- A parent/guardian
- Eligible Adult Student
- School Staff (Teacher, Psychologist, Nurse, Administrator, Special Area Teacher, or SIT)
- Anyone who believes the student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.
Building 504 Coordinators
What is an “impairment” as used under the Section 504 definition?
An impairment as used in Section 504 may include any disability, long-term illness, or various disorder that “substantially” reduces or lessens a student’s ability to access learning in the educational setting because of a learning-, behavior- or health-related condition.
Many students have conditions or disorders that are not readily apparent to others. They may include conditions such as specific learning disabilities, diabetes, epilepsy and allergies. Hidden disabilities such as low vision, poor hearing, heart disease or chronic illness may not be obvious, but if they substantially limit that child’s ability to receive an appropriate education as defined by Section 504, they may be considered to have an “impairment” under Section 504 standards. As a result, these students, regardless of their intelligence, will be unable to fully demonstrate their ability or attain educational benefits equal to that of non-disabled students. The definition does not set forth a list of specific diseases, conditions or disorders that constitute impairments because of the difficulty of ensuring the comprehensiveness of any such list. While the definition of a disabled person also includes specific limitations on what persons are classified as disabled under the regulations, it also specifies that only physical and mental impairments are included, thus “environmental, cultural and economic disadvantage are not in themselves covered”
What are “major life activities”?
Major life activities include, but are not limited to: self-care, manual tasks, walking, seeing, speaking, sitting, thinking, learning, breathing, concentrating, interacting with others and working. As of January 1, 2009 with the re-authorization of the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act, this list has been expanded to also include the life activities of reading, concentrating, standing, lifting, bending, etc. This may include individuals with ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, cancer, diabetes, severe allergies, chronic asthma, Tourette ’s syndrome, digestive disorders, cardiovascular disorders, depression, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, HIV/AIDS, behavior disorders and temporary disabilities (e.g., broken writing arm, broken leg, etc.). Conditions that are episodic or in remission are also now covered if they create a substantial limitation in one or more major life activity while they are active. Students who are currently using illegal drugs or alcohol are not covered or eligible under Section 504.
What does “substantially limits” mean?
Substantially limits is not defined in the federal regulations. However, according to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the determination is to be made by each local school district and depends on the nature and severity of the person’s disabling condition. New guidance from the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act states that Section 504 standards must conform with the ADAAA and has a broad scope of protection to eligible persons. In considering substantial limitations, students must be measured against their same age, non-disabled peers in the general population and without benefit of medication or other mitigating measures such as learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications, assistive technology, or accommodations.
Who decides whether a student is qualified and eligible for services under Section 504?
Placement decisions are to be made by a group of persons who are knowledgeable about the child, the meaning of the evaluation data, placement options, least restrictive environment requirements, and comparable facilities.
Unlike Special Education, the federal regulations for Section 504 do not require or even mention that parents are to be a part of the decision-making committee. The decision of the Jasper County School District is to include parents in the decision-making committee and is identified in the district’s procedures for implementing Section 504. Parents should at least be asked and encouraged to contribute any information that they may have (e.g., doctor’s reports, outside testing reports, etc.) that would be helpful to the Section 504 committee in making their determination of what the child may need. Schools are expected to make sound educational decisions as to what the child needs in order to receive an appropriate education.
Can my child be placed under Section 504 without my knowledge?
No. Parents must always be given notice before their child is evaluated and/or placed under Section 504 (34 C.F.R. §104.36). Parents must also be given a copy of their child’s Section 504 accommodation plan if the committee determines that the child is eligible under Section 504.
What types of accommodations will my child receive if determined eligible under Section 504?
Each child’s needs are determined individually. Determination of what is appropriate for each child is based on the nature of the disabling condition and what that child needs in order to have an equal opportunity to compete when compared to the non-disabled. There is no guarantee of A’s or B’s or even that the student will not fail. Students are still expected to produce. The ultimate goal of education for all students, with or without disabilities, is to give students the knowledge and compensating skills they will need to be able to function in life after graduation.
Accommodations that may be used, but are not limited to, include:
- Highlighted textbooks
- Extended time on tests or assignments
- Peer assistance with note taking
- Frequent feedback
- Extra set of textbooks for home use
- Computer aided instruction
- Enlarged print
- Positive reinforcements
- Behavior intervention plans
- Rearranging class schedules
- Visual aids
- Preferred seating assignments
- Taping lectures
- Oral tests
- Individual contracts