What is a 504 plan?
Many parents ask themselves “what is a 504 plan and how could it help my child?” “504” refers to a section of a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. With a 504 plan, students with disabilities can access educational accommodations, aids, and services. Section 504 requires that public schools provide a “free appropriate public education” (called “FAPE”) to every student with a disability — regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. [via OSPI]
How do I know if my child’s disability qualifies for a 504 plan?
Section 504 defines disability as a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Major life activities are activities that are important to most people’s daily lives. Some examples include:
- Caring for oneself
- Performing manual tasks,
- Walking and breathing
- Seeing, hearing and speaking
- Learning and working
- Eating, sleeping, standing and bending,
- Reading, concentrating, thinking and communicating
- Major body functions, such as functions of the digestive, bowel, bladder, brain, circulatory, reproductive, neurological or respiratory systems
“Substantially limits” should be interpreted broadly. A student’s impairment does not need to prevent, or severely or significantly restrict, a major life activity to be substantially limiting. [via Students Rights: Section 504 PDF]
How can I get my child evaluated for a 504?
You can ask for your child to be evaluated for a 504. You will need to make your referral in writing to your school and ask that they evaluate whether or not your child has a disability and needs accommodations, aids, and services.
What is the difference between a Section 504 plan and an IEP?
There are two requirements for a 504:
- A child has any disability which can include learning and attention issues.
- The disability must interfere with the child’s ability to learn. Section 504 has a broader definition of a disability than IDEA. That’s why a child who doesn’t qualify for an IEP might still be able to get a 504.
There are two requirements for an IEP:
- A child has one or more of the specific disabilities listed in the IDEA. Learning and attention issues may apply.
- Intellectual Disability
- Emotional Disturbance
- Hearing Impairment
- Multiple Disabilities
- Orthopedic Impairment
- Specific Learning Disability
- Speech or Language Impairment
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Visual Impairment (includes partial sight or blindness)
- Other Health Impairment
- The disability must affect your child’s ability to learn in the general education curriculum. They need special education.
What if my child has a medical diagnosis?
There are three important ideas to know about a medical diagnosis:
- A school cannot require a parent to provide a medical diagnosis to evaluate a student. However, a diagnosis can give helpful information for the 504 team.
- The school could request a medical evaluation, at no cost to the parent, if the 504 team needs medical information to make a decision.
- A medical diagnosis does not always mean that a student needs a 504 plan. Doctors cannot prescribe a 504 plan—only the school 504 team can make that decision. However, the 504 team must consider the information a doctor provides when evaluating a student.
Condition specific 504 accommodations:
Accommodation ideas to consider with your 504 team*:
100 Effective Accommodations and Services
The following suggested accommodations/services can be used for students experiencing academic and/or behavioral difficulties. Remember, every student is different and accommodations need to be decided by the Section 504 Team, which includes the parents.