Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination based on a disability in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance including public preschool, elementary, secondary and postsecondary schools.

Under Section 504, students with disabilities have rights to reasonable accommodations. These accommodations should be outlined in a 504 Plan.

A student with a disability is defined as a student who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such impairment. Major life activities included are: caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

Details can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 34 C.F.R. 104.33. Visit the Links tab below for access.

Obtaining a 504 Plan

How does my child with a disability obtain a 504 Plan?

If your child has a disability and needs an accommodation, ask your school for the contact information of the 504 Coordinator. Then send the 504 Coordinator a written request for a 504 evaluation and plan. 

If your child’s disability substantially limits any of the "major life activities" listed above, your child has a right to a determination of eligibility for Section 504 reasonable accommodations. Your child's disability does not have to impact "learning" to be eligible for a 504 plan, if the disability impacts one of the other activities.

Current medical and other evaluations may be required. You can help speed up the process by preparing to provide school officials with current medical or other evaluations that you believe would be helpful. 

If you do not have current medical records, school officials are required to assist you with the necessary evaluations. School districts are required to establish specific procedures for initial evaluations and periodic re-evaluations and should draw from a variety of sources in the evaluation process (34 C.F.R. 104.35(c)).

Once your child has been determined eligible, a meeting should be scheduled to develop a 504 Plan. At 504 Plan meetings, a representative from school administration, guidance counselors, teachers and a 504 coordinator typically will attend. Remember that you and your child are important participants and your input is valuable to the 504 Team.

In preparation for the 504 Plan meeting, outline the issues and needed 504 accommodations in relation to your child’s disability. It may be helpful to obtain recommendations of accommodations for your child from qualified professionals such as your treating physician, specialist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or other qualified professional.

You may also request and obtain a draft 504 Plan worksheet from the school in advance of a 504 Plan meeting. The worksheet will help you understand the process and identify all the detailed accommodations that are needed. Write a draft. Bring and present your draft 504 Plan to the 504 Plan meeting. Once a 504 Plan is developed, review all the details and make sure you agree with them before signing.

If your child has a disability and requires reasonable accommodations under Section 504, familiarize yourself with your child’s rights under Section 504. A good place to start is the Code of Federal Regulations at 34 CFR § 104.31 - § 104.39.

To learn more about Section 504 rights in postsecondary schools, read these additional resources.

 

Reasonable Accommodations

To prepare for your 504 Plan meeting, write a list of the issues and the accommodations you believe are required to address your child’s disability.

What accommodations does your child require to make meaningful academic progress?

What accommodations does your child require to access the educational campus?

Accommodations are used to level the playing field. Do not let anyone make you feel like asking for accommodations is asking for your child to receive an unfair advantage.

Accommodations are required for your child to receive a free and appropriate public education.

Here are a few examples of accommodations (not an exclusive list): 

  • assistive technology
  • large print
  • Braille
  • readers
  • assistive technology
  • cctv
  • cart text-to-speech technology
  • touch screen
  • adaptive mouse
  • lap top
  • word processor
  • tape recorder
  • calculator
  • books on tape
  • magnifier
  • visual aids
  • interpreters (oral or sign)
  • extended test time
  • extended time for assignments, projects and home work
  • lessens broken down into smaller segments
  • tests broken down into smaller segments
  • study guides
  • outlines
  • preview tests
  • preview lessons
  • preview vocabulary words
  • preview spelling words
  • dictionary
  • thesaurus
  • assignment notebook
  • note taker
  • color-code or highlight key words
  • oral responses
  • lowered desk
  • adaptive chair
  • adaptive handles
  • accessible restroom
  • adaptive writing tools
  • increased space between lines
  • raised lines on paper
  • slant board
  • fewer items on a page
  • paraphrase or repeat directions  
  • directions repeated, summarized, or clarified
  • highlighter or highlighter tape
  • visual cues

Grievances & Complaints

Complaints (sometimes called "grievances") about a school's lack of compliance with a student's Section 504 rights may be filed with the school’s 504 Coordinator, the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) or in some cases with the Department of Administrative Hearings (depending on how your district handles 504 hearings).

To learn more about the rights of students with disabilities and Section 504, visit the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) website and read Protecting Students with Disabilities: Frequently Asked Questions.

How do I file a complaint against school officials?

Request (in writing) a copy of the School District Policy on filing a grievance or complaint and follow the district’s established procedure. Ask for a copy of school records to compare and contrast with documents you have.

You may also access your School District's Policy at the tab titled "Find Your District 504 Coordinator and More!" in this Disability Topic.

  • If you file a complaint with the school's 504 coordinator, it must be in writing and include your name and address. The complaint must state the problem or action (or inaction) alleged to be discriminatory.
  • The complaint must also state what correction (remedy or relief) is desired.
  • The Section 504 Coordinator (or her/his designee) must conduct an investigation. This investigation may be informal, but it must be thorough and afford all interested persons an opportunity to submit relevant evidence. 
  • The Section 504 Coordinator should issue a written decision on the complaint. 

You can also file a complaint with the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights about the allegation of discrimination on the basis of disability. 

How can the US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) help?

The U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has the authority to investigate Section 504 and ADA Title II complaints and order a correction action.

How do I get technical assistance?

OCR can provide technical asstistance to you regarding a Section 504 or Title II ADA concern regardless of where you file your complaint. OCR can also provide technical assistance to school district officials.

How can I protect my child’s rights and begin to document disability discrimination?

To help protect your child’s rights to a free and appropriate public education, make it a habit to keep a detailed journal of events pertinent to your child’s education. Write the journal as a chronological record with dates, times, places, and events. Note names and titles of school officials and others involved with school events. This information may be useful if you need to document disability discrimination.

If you believe disability discrimination is occurring or you have specific concerns with school officials and the education of your child, document your specific concerns in writing to the school officials. Date your correspondence, make a copy for your records, request a written response and if possible send your correspondence return receipt requested.

How do I verify agreements with school officials?

To memorialize important conversations and any negotiations with school officials, follow up by sending a detailed letter to confirm each agreement. Put in writing any requests you have made for services for your child. Ask school officials for a timely written response. If possible send your correspondence return receipt requested so you can verify school officials received the correspondence.

Links

Federal Regulations

Office of Civil Rights

US Department of Education - Civil Rights Coordinators Search

  • Search the names and contact information for the civil rights coordinators (Title IX coordinators, Section 504/Title II coordinators, and Title VI coordinators) of virtually every school district in the country.

Florida Department of Education

Additional online resources:

504 in Your District

Visit our new page - Section 504 - County by County to find the name and contact information for the 504 coordinator in your district.

Also, you will be able to access the name and contact information for the agency the district has contracted to conduct 504 hearings and a copy of the district's 504 Grievance Policy and Procedure.