What is the Big IDEA Behind Inclusion Webinar

This webinar was recorded in the summer of 2018.

About this Webinar – Topics will include:

* Why inclusion is important in schools, classrooms and communities
* What inclusion is and what it is not
* Who is involved in making meaningful inclusion successful
* Underpinnings in federal law

Presented by, Jen Cole
Director, Parent Training and Information

Section 504 Nondiscrimination Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 at Reg. 104.4

“No qualified handicapped person shall, on the basis of handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefit of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination, under any program or activity which receives benefits from Federal Financial Assistance.”

Established in 1973 and based on Civil Rights Legislation of 1964, Section 504 recognizes the rights of individuals with disabilities to receive the same level of benefits as those individuals without disabilities. When we mention “Section 504” we mean Section 504 of PL 93.112, which is designed to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity receiving Federal Financial Assistance.

Who is included in Section 504 definition?

Any individual who:

Has a physical or mental disability that substantially impacts major life activities

Has a history of disability as defined above

Is suspected of having a disability

Is treated as if having a disability

Individuals with short-term or temporary condition also qualify, however, districts must evaluate needs and identify services to be provided

A school-age child who has a disability and does not qualify for Special Education, may still be entitled to accommodations or other services in Regular Education, under Section 504.

When assessing students under Section 504:

Evaluation must be performed in a timely manner if disability is suspected

Provision of services may not be delayed until evaluation is completed

The evaluation must consider all areas of need

The district is not required to provide an independent evaluation at public expense

Parental consent must be obtained for initial evaluation

The district cannot require parents to provide medical documentation as a prerequisite for evaluation

The school district may require documentation if same documentation is required from non-disabled students to participate in activities

Periodic re-evaluations are required (however, no specific time frame is given);

Re-evaluation before any change of placement;

What is provided by Section 504?

Employment practices

Postsecondary education

Program accessibility

Health, welfare and social services

Admissions and recruitment protections

Preschool, elementary and secondary education

Under Part C & E of Section 50 it also provides:

Equal access to education as that provided to non-disabled peers

Nondiscriminatory testing

Related aides and services, to include transportation if necessary for the provision of FAPE

Procedural safeguards

What are “accommodations” under Section 504?

Accommodations are basic adjustments or supports that may be needed by a student with a disability in order to access programs on an equal basis to their non-disabled peers. They may include: modified testing, books on tape, readers, personalized homework or assignments, etc.

Procedural Safeguards Requirements

Section 504 has established specific requirements concerning legal rights and the protection given by procedural safeguards. Districts are required to establish policies to insure the general public is aware of services provided under Section 504 and the ADA.

A district should evaluate the need to modify policies and practices that do not meet Section 504 requirements. Districts must take appropriate steps to insure persons with disabilities and their parents are aware of districts’ duties under Section 504.

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) investigates complaints of alleged discrimination through a Compliant Officer.

Procedural Safeguards include (refer to Sec. 504, part D, reg. 104.36):


Review of all “relevant” records

Impartial third party hearing

District’s review procedures

The right for parents to be represented by a counsel

Things to remember:

Section 504 is based on Civil Rights Legislation of 1964.

IDEA has its roots in Section 504, known as PL 93.112.

Section 504 recognizes the rights of individuals with disabilities to receive same access to services as their non-disabled peers.

Section 504 is designed to insure qualified individuals with disabilities have access to any entities/programs/activities receiving Federal Financial Assistance.

Section 504 does not require an IEP.

Section 504 requires a plan that describes the services to be provided, to include necessary accommodations.

It provides Procedural Safeguards in case of non-compliance or violation.

Section 504 also provides a broader definition of FAPE.

Section 504 provides protection to qualified students with disabilities, regardless if they need special education.

Section 504 may provide compensatory damages.

For military families

Section 504 applies in the US and territories. This means that it applies to all US schools and the US Sec. 6 DDESS schools. In the DDESS system, Section 504 is implemented through DODI 1020.1.

Section 504 does not apply to overseas DODDS schools systems because while overseas families are on a host country agreement (Status Of Forces Agreement or SOFA law) and that means the installation is not part of a US territory, therefore Section 504 cannot be applied to such schools.

When considering overseas assignments, families who have children with special needs should be aware that Section 504 does not apply overseas.

When coming to the US from an overseas assignment, know that Section 504 protects all students and individuals with disabilities under the conditions described above.

“Working Together with Military Families of Individuals with DisAbilities!”

504 Students with Disabilities


An important goal of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is to foster partnerships between school districts and parents to address the needs of students with disabilities. Such partnerships empower all parties to secure quality education. OCR has experienced a steady influx of complaints and inquiries in the area of elementary and secondary education involving Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (Section 504). Most of these concern identification of students who are protected by Section 504 and the means to obtain an appropriate education for such students. OCR reached out to parents and school districts to determine the kinds of assistance they needed.

Section 504 is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). Section 504 provides: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance . . . ”

OCR enforces Section 504 in programs and activities that receive funds from DOE. Recipients of these funds include public school districts, institutions of higher education, and other state and local education agencies. The regulation implementing Section 504 in the context of educational institutions appears at 34 C.F.R. Part 104.

The Section 504 regulation requires a school district to provide a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district’s jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student’s individual needs.

This resource document clarifies pertinent requirements of Section 504 and responds to specific questions raised by parents and school districts.

For additional information, please contact the Office for Civil Rights.

Note: For additional discrimination laws see Americans With Disabilities Act 2008 Title II and Title III.


Section 504 covers qualified students with disabilities who attend schools receiving federal money. To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to: 1) have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; 2) have a record of such impairment, or 3) be regarded as having such impairment. Section 504 requires that school districts provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualified students.

What is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity?

The determination of whether a student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity must be made on the basis of an individual inquiry. The Section 504 regulation, at 34 C.F.R. 104.3(j)(2)(i), defines a physical or mental impairment as any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. These are some examples of specific diseases and conditions.

Major life activities, as defined in the Section 504 regulation at 34 C.F.R. 104.3(j)(2)(ii), include functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. This list is not exhaustive. Other functions can be major life activities for purposes of Section 504.

What services are available for students who qualify under Section 504?

Section 504 requires schools to provide to students with disabilities appropriate educational services designed to meet the individual needs of such students to the same extent as the needs of students without disabilities are met. An appropriate education for a student with a disability under Section 504 could consist of education in regular classrooms, education in regular classes with supplementary services, and/or special education and related services.

Once a student is identified as eligible for services under Section 504, is that student always entitled to such services?

No. The protections of Section 504 extend only to individuals who meet the definition of a person with a disability. If a school district re-evaluates a student in accordance with the Section 504 regulation at 34 C.F.R. 104.35 and determines that the student’s mental or physical impairment no longer substantially limits his/her ability to learn or any other major life activity, the student is no longer eligible for services under Section 504.

Are current illegal users of drugs excluded from protection under Section 504?

Generally, yes. Section 504 excludes from the definition of a student with a disability, and from 504 protections, any student who is currently engaged in the illegal use of drugs (with exceptions for persons in rehabilitation programs).

Are current users of alcohol excluded from protection under Section 504?

No. Section 504’s definition of a student with a disability does not exclude users of alcohol. However, Section 504 allows schools to take disciplinary action against students with disabilities using drugs or alcohol to the same extent as students without disabilities.


Section 504 requires the use of evaluation procedures that ensure that children are not misclassified, unnecessarily labeled as having a disability, or incorrectly placed, based on inappropriate selection, administration, or interpretation of evaluation materials.

What is an appropriate evaluation under Section 504?

School districts must establish standards and procedures for initial evaluations and periodic re-evaluations of students who need or are believed to need special education and/or related services because of disability. The Section 504 regulation, at 34 C.F.R. 104.35(b), requires school districts to evaluate a student using tests that accurately reflect the student’s strengths, needs and other factors that are related to the students disabilities. Tests and or assessments must be appropriate and administered by trained personnel.

What should trigger an initial evaluation?

A district should evaluate a student if the district knows or suspects that, due to a disability, the student needs special education or related aids or services to participate in or benefit from the district’s education program. For example, the following situations may trigger an initial evaluation under Section 504: receiving failing grades, failing to advance from grade to grade, chronically absent from school, serious illness or injury, receiving drug/alcohol treatment, life threatening health condition, excessive expulsion/suspension from school, or a student who is no longer eligible for special education under IDEA and no longer receives an IEP.

How much is enough information to document that a student has a disability?

The Section 504 regulation, at 34 C.F.R. 104.35(c), requires that school districts draw from a variety of sources in the evaluation process. The information obtained must be documented and all significant factors related to the student’s learning process must be considered. These sources and factors may include aptitude and achievement tests, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social and cultural background, and adaptive behavior.

Can the district require a parent to provide a medical diagnosis before it will initiate an evaluation of a student under Section 504?

No. Under Section 504, a district must evaluate a student if the district knows or suspects that the student, because of a disability, needs special education or related aids or services, regardless of whether the student has a medical diagnosis. A district may provide a student medical diagnostic services, as a related service, if the district believes that it needs a medical diagnosis to determine whether a student has a medical condition.

Are there any medical diagnosis or impairments which automatically qualify a student for protection under Section 504?

No. A medical diagnosis or impairment in and of itself does not qualify a student for protection under Section 504. The medical diagnosis or impairment must substantially limit one or more major life activities in order to qualify a student for protection under Section 504.

Must a school district obtain parental consent prior to initiating a Section 504 evaluation?

Yes. The school district needs to obtain parental permission for initial evaluations. If a district suspects a student needs or is believed to need special instruction or related services and parental consent is withheld, districts may use due process hearing procedures to override the parents’ denial of consent for an initial evaluation.

If so, in what form is parental consent required?

Section 504 is silent on the form of parental consent required. OCR has accepted written consent as compliance.

What should a school district do if a parent refuses to consent to an evaluation under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), but request a Section 504 plan for a student without further evaluation?

Section 504 requires parental permission for initial evaluations. If a parent refuses consent for an initial evaluation and a school district suspects a student has a disability, the IDEA and Section 504 provide that school districts may use due process hearing procedures to override the parents’ denial of consent.

Who in the evaluation process makes the ultimate decision regarding a student’s eligibility for services under Section 504?

The Section 504 regulation at 34 C.F.R.104.35 (c) (3) requires that school districts ensure that the determination that a student is eligible for special education and/or related aids and services be made by a group of persons, including persons knowledgeable about the meaning of the evaluation data and placement options. If a parent disagrees with the determination, he or she may request a due process hearing.

Once a student is identified as eligible for services under Section 504, is there a review requirement for the evaluation?

Yes. A periodic re-evaluation is required. This may be conducted in accordance with the IDEA regulation, which requires re-evaluation at three-year intervals or more frequently if conditions warrant, or if the child’s parent or teacher requests a re-evaluation.

What is reasonable justification for referring a student for evaluation for services under Section 504?

School districts may always use regular education intervention strategies to assist students with difficulties in school. Section 504 requires recipient school districts to refer a student for an evaluation for possible special education or modification to regular education if the student, because of disability, needs or is believed to need such services.

A student has a disability listed in the IDEA law, but does not require special education services. Is such a student eligible for services under Section 504?

The student may be eligible for services under Section 504. The school district must determine whether the student has an impairment which substantially limits his or her ability to learn or other major life activities and, if so, make an individualized determination of the child’s educational needs for regular or special education or related aids or services.


Once a student is identified as being eligible for regular or special education and related aids or services, a decision must be made regarding the type of services the student needs.

If a student qualifies for services under both the IDEA and Section 504, must a school district develop both an individualized education program (IEP) under the IDEA and a Section 504 plan?

No. If a student is eligible under IDEA, he/she must have an IEP. Under the Section 504 regulations, one way to meet Section 504 requirements is to comply with IDEA. Accommodations/modifications must be listed on the IEP so that the student can benefit from the general education setting.

What is the school district’s responsibility under Section 504 toward a student who transfers from another district?

If a student transfers to a district from another school district with a Section 504 plan, the receiving district should review the plan and supporting documentation. If the receiving school district, including persons knowledgeable about the evaluation data and placement options determines the plan is appropriate, the district is required to implement the plan. If the district determines that the plan is inappropriate, the district is to evaluate the student consistent with the Section 504 procedures at 34 C.F.R. 104.35 and determine which educational program is appropriate for the student.

What are the responsibilities of regular education teachers with respect to implementation of Section 504 plans? What are the consequences if the district fails to implement the plans?

Regular education teachers must provide the services listed on the Section 504 plan. If the teachers fail to implement the plans, such failure can cause the school district to be in noncompliance with Section 504.

What is the difference between a regular education intervention plan and a Section 504 plan?

A regular education intervention plan is appropriate for a student who does not have a disability or is not suspected of having a disability but may be facing challenges in school. School districts vary in how they address performance problems of regular education students. Some examples of general education interventions may be after school tutoring, home work club, extra support in classroom, etc.

Can a district place a disabled student on a shortened school day?

Yes. As a general rule, a district cannot limit the length of a disabled student’s school day unless it has a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for doing so (e.g., a shortened school day is necessary to provide FAPE). In general, transportation difficulties, staff shortages, and other administrative concerns are not legitimate reasons to place a disabled student on a shortened school day.

Is a disabled student entitled to extended school year (ESY) services?

Yes. A district must provide ESY services to a disabled student if: 1) the student’s ability to perform a critical skill would substantially regress during a normal school break and the student would not recoup the lost skill within a reasonable period of time; or 2) the interruption of instruction on a critical skill during a normal school break would prevent the student from benefiting from his/her education program during the regular school year.


Schools must employ procedural safeguards regarding the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of persons who, because of disability, need or are believed to need special instruction or related services. School districts are required to establish and implement procedural safeguards that include notice, an opportunity for parents to review relevant records, an impartial hearing with opportunity for participation by the student’s parents or guardian, representation by counsel and a review procedure.

What is a school district’s responsibility under Section 504 to provide information to parents and students about its evaluation and placement process?

Section 504 requires districts to provide notice to parents explaining any evaluation and placement decisions affecting their children and explaining the parents’ right to review educational records and appeal any decision regarding evaluation and placement through an impartial hearing.

Can a parent withdraw a student from a 504 plan, if so what is the school districts recourse?

Yes. A parent can remove or refuse services under a section 504. The school district may initiate a Section 504 due process hearing to resolve the dispute if the district believes the student needs the services in order to receive an appropriate education.

Is there a mediation requirement under Section 504?

No. Only Section 504 law only requires the options of a formal OCR complaint or due process hearing.


Can the school district suspend or expel my child who is receiving section 504 services?

Yes. However a school district cannot implement a disciplinary action which constitutes a significant change in a disabled student’s educational placement until it has satisfied required change of placement procedures. Students may not be suspended for behavior related to their disability; however if the behavior is not related to their disabling condition then they may be suspended like their non-disabled peers.

What is considered a significant change in placement under a section 504?

A change in placement occurs if 1) a child is removed for more than 10 consecutive school days or 2) is subjected to a series of removals that constitute a pattern because of factors such as length of each removal, total amount of time removed, and proximity of removals one to another. Any change in placement initiates a manifestation determination review.

What is a manifestation determination review under section 504?

It is a process in which the students section 504 team and other qualified personnel meet to determine the relationship between the student’s disability and the behavior subject to the disciplinary action. This must occur immediately or no later than 10 school days after the discipline action. The section 504 team looks at 4 criteria to determine if the students behavior was related to the disability: 1) was the student’s placement appropriate; 2) were the supplementary aides, services and behavior interventions consistent with the 504 plan; 3) did the student’s disability impair the ability to understand the impact and consequences of the behavior and; 4) did the student’s disability impair the ability of the student to control the behavior.

Is the district obligation under Section 504 to provide services for students who are suspended or expelled from school?

Yes/No. That would depend on the outcome of the manifestation determination. If the answer to any of the review questions is yes, then it is determined that the student’s behavior was a manifestation and the student cannot be suspended and services under the Section 504 must continue. If the answer is no, then it is determined that the behavior was not a manifestation of the student’s disability and the student can be suspended in the same manner as their non-disabled peers and the student can receive school work only if it is giving to non-disabled peers while under a suspension/expulsion.


What are my rights under a Section 504?

You have the right to:

  • Receive notice with respect to identification, evaluation, or placement/program change.
  • Provide consent prior to initial evaluation and placement.
  • Have an evaluation that draws on information from a variety of sources.
  • Examine all educational records.
  • Periodic re-evaluations and an evaluation before any change in program/services.
  • Be educated with non-disabled students to the maximum extent appropriate. Including participation in school related and extracurricular activities.
  • Education in facilities and receive services comparable to those provided non-disabled students.
  • Receive all information in native language and primary mode of communication.
  • File a grievance or OCR complaint.
  • Request a due process hearing.


What is the jurisdiction of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and state departments of education/instruction regarding educational services to students with disabilities?

OCR, a component of the U.S. Department of Education, enforces Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, (Section 504) a civil rights statute which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. OCR also enforces Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which extends this prohibition against discrimination to the full range of state or local government services (including public schools), programs, or activities regardless of whether they receive any federal funding. The standards adopted by the ADA were designed not to restrict the rights or remedies available under Section 504. The Title II regulations applicable to free and appropriate public education issues do not provide greater protection than applicable Section 504 regulations. This guidance focuses on Section 504.

Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by state and local governments. IDEA is a grant statute and attaches many specific conditions to the receipt of Federal IDEA funds. Section 504 and the ADA are antidiscrimination laws and do not provide any type of funding.

How does OCR get involved in disability issues within a school district?

OCR receives complaints from parents, students or advocates; 2) OCR provides technical assistance to school districts, parents or advocates; and 3) OCR initiates reviews or specific partnership initiatives with school districts to address disability issues.

Where can a school district, parent, or student get information on Section 504?

OCR provides technical assistance to school districts, parents, and students upon request.

Does OCR examine individual placement or other educational decisions for students with disabilities?

Except in extraordinary circumstances, OCR does not review the result of individual placement or other educational decisions so long as the school district complies with the procedural requirements of Section 504 relating to identification and location of students with disabilities, evaluation of such students, and due process. OCR will examine procedures by which school districts identify and evaluate students with disabilities and the procedural safeguards which those school districts provide students. OCR will also examine incidents in which students with disabilities are allegedly subjected to treatment which is different from the treatment to which similarly situated students without disabilities are subjected. Such incidents may involve the unwarranted exclusion of disabled students from educational programs and services.

What protections does OCR provide against retaliation?

A recipient is prohibited from intimidating, threatening, coercing, or discriminating against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Section 504.

Does OCR mediate complaints?

No. OCR does not engage in formal mediation. However, OCR may offer to facilitate mediation, referred to as “Resolution between the Parties,” to resolve a complaint filed under Section 504. This approach brings the parties together so that they may discuss possible resolution of the complaint immediately. If both parties are willing to utilize this approach, OCR will work with the parties to facilitate resolution by providing each an understanding of pertinent legal standards and possible remedies. An agreement reached between the parties is not monitored by OCR.

What are the appeal rights with OCR?

OCR is committed to ensuring that every complaint is appropriately resolved. If a complainant has questions or concerns about an OCR determination, he or she may contact the OCR staff person whose name appears in the complaint resolution letter. The complainant should address his or her concerns with as much specificity as possible, focusing on factual or legal questions that would change the resolution of the case. Should a complainant continue to have questions or concerns, he/she is advised to contact the Director of the responsible OCR field office. The Director will review the appropriateness of the complaint resolution. If the complainant remains dissatisfied, he or she may appeal to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement.

What does noncompliance with Section 504 mean?

A school district is out of compliance when it is violating any provision of the Section 504 statute or regulations.

What sanctions can OCR impose on a school district that is out of compliance?

OCR initially attempts to bring the school district into voluntary compliance through negotiation of a corrective action agreement. If OCR is unable to achieve voluntary compliance, OCR will initiate enforcement action. OCR may: (1) initiate administrative proceedings to terminate Department of Education financial assistance to the school district; or (2) refer the case to the Department of Justice for judicial proceedings.

Who has ultimate authority to enforce Section 504?

In the educational context, OCR has been given administrative authority to enforce Section 504. Section 504 is a Federal statute that may be enforced through the Department’s administrative process or through the Federal court system. In addition, a person may at any time file a private lawsuit against a school district.


The following terms may be confusing and/or are frequently used incorrectly in the elementary and secondary school context.

Accommodation: a term correctly used in the context of public accommodations and facilities; an individual with a disability may not be excluded, denied services, segregated or otherwise treated differently than other individuals by a public accommodation or commercial facility; (This term is not to be confused with “reasonable accommodation,” discussed below.)

Equal access: equal opportunity of a qualified person with a disability to participate in or benefit from educational aids, benefits, or services.

Free and appropriate public education (FAPE): a term used in the elementary and secondary school context; refers to the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet individual educational needs of students with disabilities as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities are met and is based upon adherence to procedures that satisfy the Section 504 requirements pertaining to educational setting, evaluation and placement, and procedural safeguards.

Placement: a term used in the elementary and secondary school context; refers to regular and/or special educational program in which a student receives educational and/or related services.

Reasonable accommodation: a term used in the employment context to refer to modifications or adjustments employers make to a job application process, the work environment, the manner or circumstances under which the position held or desired is customarily performed, or that enable a covered entity’s employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment; this term is sometimes used incorrectly to refer to related aids and services in the elementary and secondary school context or to refer to academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services in the postsecondary school context.

Related services: a term used in the elementary and secondary school context to refer to developmental, corrective, and other supportive services, including psychological, counseling and medical diagnostic services and transportation.


These accommodations are examples only.


EXAMPLE: The student has severe allergic reactions to certain pollens and foods. For purpose of this example the condition substantially limits the major life activity of breathing and may interfere with the student’s ability to get to school or participate once there.

Possible Accommodations and Services:

  • Avoid allergy-causing substances: soap, weeds, pollen, and food
  • In-service necessary persons: dietary people, peers, coaches, etc.
  • Allow time for shots/clinic appointments
  • Use air purifiers
  • Adapt physical education curriculum during high pollen time
  • Develop health care and/or emergency plans
  • Address pets/animals in the classroom
  • Involve school health consultant in school related health issues


EXAMPLE: A student has been diagnosed as having severe asthma. The doctor has advised the student not to participate in physical activity outdoors. For purposes of this example, the disability limits the major life activity of breathing.

Possible Accommodations and Services:

  • Adapt activity level for recess, physical education, etc.
  • Remove allergens (e.g., hair spray, lotions, perfumes, paint, latex)
  • Make field trips that might aggravate the condition non-mandatory and supplement with videos, audiotapes, movies, etc.
  • Provide access to water, gum, etc.
  • Develop health care and emergency plans
  • Provide rest periods
  • Make health care needs known to appropriate staff
  • Have a locker location which is centralized location
  • Adapt attendance policies, school day duration, or 180-day requirement, if needed


EXAMPLE: The student does not meet eligibility requirements under IDEA. A doctor regards the student as having ADD, and for purposes of this example, the disability limits the major life activity of learning.

Possible Accommodations and Services:

  • Seat the student away from distractions and in close proximity to the teacher
  • State classroom rules, post in an obvious location, and enforce consistently
  • Use simple, concise instructions with concrete steps
  • Provide seating options
  • Tolerate (understand the need for) excessive movement
  • Provide a peer tutor/helper
  • Teach compensatory strategies
  • Adjust assignments to match attention span, etc.
  • Vary instructional pace and activities frequently
  • Provide supervision during transitions, disruptions, field trips
  • Model the use of study guides, organizing tools
  • Accommodate testing procedures; lengthy tests might be broken down into several shorter administrations
  • Provide counseling and prompt feedback on both successes and areas needing improvement
  • Initiate frequent parent communication
  • Establish a school/home behavior management program
  • Provide training for staff
  • Have the student use an organizer; train in organizational skills
  • Establish a nonverbal cue between teacher and student for behavior monitoring
  • Assign chores/duties around room/school
  • Adapt environment to avoid distractions
  • Reinforce appropriate behavior
  • Have child work alone or in a study carrel during high stress times
  • Highlight required or important information/directions
  • Provide a checklist for student, parents, and/or teacher to record assignments of completed tasks
  • Have student restate or write directions/instructions
  • Allow student to respond in variety of different modes (i.e., may verbally give or record answers for tests on tape instead of paper)
  • Give student opportunity to stand/move while working
  • Adapt student’s work area to help screen out distracting stimuli
  • Grade for content integrity not just neatness/presentation
  • Schedule subjects which require greater concentration early in the day
  • Supply small rewards to promote behavior change
  • Avoid withholding physical activity as a negative reinforcer
  • Allow for periodic, frequent physical activity, exercise, etc.
  • Determine trigger points and prevent action leading to trigger points
  • Provide for socialization opportunities, such as circle of friends


EXAMPLE: The student was diagnosed as having a bipolar disorder, however did not qualify under IDEA. A 504 committee determined that the condition did significantly impair the major life activity of learning and developed a 504 plan for the student.

Possible Accommodations and Services:

  • Break down assignments into manageable parts with clear and simple directions.
  • Plan advanced preparation for transitions
  • Allow most difficult subjects at times when student is most alert
  • Provide extra time on tests, class work, and homework if needed
  • Strategies in place for unpredictable mood swings
  • Provide appropriate staff with training on bipolar disorder
  • Create awareness by staff of potential victimization from other students
  • Implement a crisis intervention plan
  • Provide positive praise and redirection
  • Consider home instruction for times when the student’s mood disorder makes it impossible for him to attend school for an extended period.


EXAMPLE: A student with a long-term medical problem may require special accommodations. Such a condition as cancer may substantially limit the major life activities of learning and caring for oneself.

Possible Accommodations and Services:

  • Adjust attendance policies
  • Limit numbers of classes taken; accommodate scheduling needs (breaks, etc.)
  • Send teacher/tutor to hospital, as appropriate
  • Adjust activity level and expectations in classes based on physical limitations; don’t require activities that are too physically taxing
  • Provide appropriate assistive technology
  • Provide dietary accommodations
  • Provide a private area in which to rest
  • Shorten school day
  • Arrange for home tutoring following treatment
  • Send additional set of texts and assignments to hospital schools
  • Adjust schedule to include rest breaks
  • Adapt physical education
  • Provide access to school health services
  • Provide awareness training to staff and students
  • Develop health care emergency plan to deal with getting sick at school
  • Notify parents of communicable diseases in school


EXAMPLE: A sixth grader with juvenile diabetes requires accommodation to maintain optimal blood sugar.

Possible Accommodations and Services:

  • Health care plan for management of condition in the school setting and in emergencies
  • Educate staff to signs/symptoms of insulin reaction/hypoglycemia: hunger, shakiness, sweatiness, change in face color, disorientation, drowsiness
  • Do not leave the child alone if he/she is feeling poorly; walk to the office or clinic with the student.
  • Adapt physical education activities
  • Store equipment and documentation in a readily accessible location for student, parent, and area nurse or clinic aid
  • Accommodate food access/meal schedules rigorously
  • Allow access to bathroom facilities


EXAMPLE: The student is on medication for seizure activity, but experiences several petit mal seizures each month. This condition substantially limits the major life activity of learning.

Possible Accommodations and Services:

  • Call parent and document the characteristics of each seizure
  • Assess breathing after seizure
  • Train staff and students and prepare an emergency plan
  • Anticipate recovery process should a seizure occur
  • Arrange a buddy system, especially for field trips
  • Provide an alternative recess; adapt activities such as climbing and/or swimming
  • Plan for academic make-up work
  • Observe for consistent triggers (e.g., smells, bright light, perfume, hair spray)


EXAMPLE: The student has a learning disability that impacts her ability to read. She/He has more difficulty with word decoding and spelling than reading comprehension. Thus, completing reading tasks is difficult and slow. She/He is currently a student receiving special education services.

Possible Accommodations and Services:

  • Provide lower-readability materials covering course context
  • Provide extended time on tests
  • Arrange for student/volunteer readers
  • Provide information on accessing materials through recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic (i.e., books on tape)
  • Allow access to spell checkers and/or word processing
  • Written directions in addition to oral
  • Clearly sequenced instruction
  • Visual graphs/charts/diagrams to support instruction
  • Provision of computer access
  • Seating toward the instructor
  • Support in the use of organizational/time-management strategies
  • Support in the use of strategies to assist memory and problem-solving
  • Use of multi-sensory instructional methods (i.e., visual graphs and charts to accompany oral presentation)


EXAMPLE: The student has limited mobility and uses a wheelchair. This condition substantially limits the major life activity of walking.

Possible Accommodations and Services:

  • Develop a health care and emergency plan
  • Implement an adaptive physical education program
  • Provide physical therapy at school
  • Correct problems with physical accessibility of facilities/pathways between buildings
  • Provide extra time to get to class
  • Supply a set of textbooks for home
  • Provide a copy of class notes from a peer
  • Practice emergency exit from school building
  • Ensure that access to programs held in the basement or on second or third floors is handicapped accessible


EXAMPLE: A student was in an automobile accident and will be homebound and/or hospitalized for an extensive period. The student is considered temporarily disabled under

Section 504 and should receive accommodations if this disability substantially limits a major life activity during the period of disability.

Possible Accommodations and Services:

  • Provide duplicate sets of texts
  • Provide assignments to hospital school
  • Tape lessons
  • Provide homebound instruction
  • Schedule periodic home-school meetings
  • Arrange for student to leave class early to get to next class
  • Provide access to elevators
  • Excuse from or adapt physical education program
  • Arrange for a friend to assist student in getting from class to class, provide help with getting lunch tray
  • Provide a cordless phone/beeper/pager
  • Provide an interactive system — computer, e-mail, TV
  • Arrange for peer notes
  • Change seating arrangements to accommodate needs
  • Adapt assignments depending on disability
  • Allow more time for test completion
  • Allow shortened days; adjust attendance policy
  • In-service staff and class and prepare an emergency care plan
  • Switch programs /classes to an accessible classroom on the main floor
  • Test verbally
  • Provide peer assistance for social involvement (i.e., to keep child informed of social activities)
  • Provide area nurse services


EXAMPLE: The student exhibits inappropriate gestures and sounds in the classroom and hallways. The condition is substantially limiting in the major life activities of learning and caring for oneself.

Possible Accommodations and Services:

  • Provide student with a means of catching up on missed lessons
  • Pair with a fellow student for study if needed
  • Educate other students about associated outbursts/gestures/tics
  • Arrange for frequent parental interaction, if needed
  • Implement a behavior management program, if indicated; cue student about inappropriate behaviors
  • Provide supervision for transition activities, during periods of “acting out”
  • Teach compensatory strategies
  • Adapt assignments, if indicated
  • Provide peer/teacher in-service with parent/student permission


EXAMPLE: The student sustained a brain injury in an automobile accident. Many academic and motor skills have been lost from the injury. The student does not qualify for special education under IDEA. The condition is substantially limiting to the major life activities of learning and performing manual tasks.

Possible Accommodations and Services:

  • Provide extended school year/time
  • Furnish memory/organizational aids
  • Provide alternative testing
  • Initiate tutoring programs
  • Arrange an emergency plan
  • Monitor for seizure activity
  • In-service staff and peers with student/parent permission
  • Monitor fatigue/mental exhaustion
  • Provide frequent short breaks during periods of intense concentration
  • Shorten the instructional day if indicated
  • Provide strategies for organizing/sequencing tasks
  • Provide post-secondary or vocational transition planning


EXAMPLE: A student has a progressive medical disorder, which results in increasing loss of visual acuity. He now requires both enhanced lighting and enlarged print materials in order to read.

Possible Accommodations and Services:

  • Preferential seating
  • Adaptations to the physical environment (i.e., consistent room arrangement, removal of obstacles to path Of entry)
  • Copies of text/reading materials for adaptation
  • Modified writing tools (i.e., dark felt tip pens)
  • Perkins Brailler
  • Slate and stylus
  • Raised lines on writing paper
  • Dark lined writing paper
  • Lighting aids
  • Low vision devices including magnifiers, monocular glass, closed-circuit TV
  • Desktop slantboard
  • Enlarged print materials: textbooks, workbooks, worksheets
  • Braille textbooks/reading materials
  • Books on tape
  • Audiotape recorder, tapes and organizational location (headphones if needed)
  • Oral instead of written tests
  • Standardized tests (i.e., CAT, SAT) in large print or Braille
  • Tactile maps
  • Computer with enlarged print screen/adaptations
  • Speech synthesizer for input and output
  • Screen reading device
  • Optical Character Recognition System Scanner
  • Mobility devices (i.e., white cane)
  • Abacus


EXAMPLE: A student has an extreme eating disorder that may require special accommodations. Obesity may be considered a disability under Section 504 where it substantially impairs a major life activity or is regarded by others as doing so.

Possible Accommodations and Services:

  • Provide special seating modifications
  • Make dietary modifications per physician recommendation
  • Adapt physical education program per physician recommendation
  • Allow extra time to get to classes
  • Educate peers
  • Provide opportunities for socialization and peer counseling/interaction
  • Ensure privacy for self-care
  • Arrange for counselor/nurse to supervise peer counseling to deal with esteem issues, peer attitudes, teasing.
  • Arrange to provide opportunities for the individual to participate in extracurricular events
  • Make any class location changes that may be needed


As local districts develop policies and procedures for guiding the referral and identification of students determined to be disabled under Section 504, it is critical that information concerning this law and its impact on local school districts be shared with principals and building-level staff. The intent of Section 504 is to “accommodate” for differences within the regular education environment. For this to be accomplished, all staff must be provided with awareness activities and given specific information concerning the district’s procedures for dealing with Section 504 referrals. As individual students are identified, the classroom teacher may need specific training in the area of the identified disability (e.g., training from the school nurse on a danger signs of an impending asthma attack, training from a physical therapist on correct positioning of a wheelchair-using student at this/her desk, etc.) The following classroom/facility accommodations are presented as examples of ways in which Section 504 disabilities may be successfully addressed within the regular education environment. The following information provides examples of ways in which the needs of children with disabilities (or Section 504 disabilities) may be accommodated in the regular classroom environment.


Parent/student/teacher communications

Develop a daily/weekly journal.

Develop parent/student/school contacts.

Schedule periodic parent/teacher meetings.

Provide parents with duplicate set of texts.

Difficulty following through on instructions from others

Gain student’s attention before giving directions. Use alerting cues.

Give one direction at a time. Quietly repeat directions to the student after they have been given to the rest of the class. Check for understanding by having the student repeat the directions.

Place general methods of operation and expectations on charts displayed around the room and/or on sheets to be included in student’s notebook.

Difficulty completing assignments

List and/or post (and say) all steps necessary to complete each assignment.

Reduce the assignment into manageable sections with specific due dates

Make frequent checks for work/assignment completion.

Arrange for the student to have a “study buddy” with phone number in each subject area.

Difficulty with test-taking

Allow extra time for resting, teach test-taking skills and strategies, and allow student to be tested orally.

Use clear, readable and uncluttered test forms. Use test format that the student is most comfortable with. Allow ample space for student response. Consider having lined answer spaces for essay or short answer questions.

Poor handwriting (often mixing cursive and manuscript and capitals with lower-case letters)

Allow for a scribe and grade for content, not handwriting.

Allow for use of a computer or typewriter.

Consider alternative methods for student response (e.g., tape recorder, oral reports, etc.)

Don’t penalize student for mixing cursive and manuscript (accept any method of production)

Poorly developed study skills

Teach study skills specific to the subject area – organization (e.g., assignment calendar), textbook reading, note taking (finding main idea/detail, mapping, outlining, skimming).

Apparent inattention (underachieve, daydreaming, not there)

Get student’s attention before giving directions; tell student how to pay attention, (Look at me while I talk; watch my eyes while I speak.)

Ask student to repeat directions.

Attempt to actively involve student in lesson (e.g., cooperative learning).

Difficulty participating in class without being interruptive, difficulty working quietly

Seat student in close proximity to the teacher.

Reward appropriate behavior (catch student at “being good”).

Use study carrel, if appropriate.

Difficulty making transitions (from activity to activity or class to class)

Program student for transitions. Give advance warning before a transition is going to take place. (Now we are completing the worksheet, next we will…) and the expectation for the transition (…and you will need…)

Specifically say and display lists of materials needed until a routine is established.

Have specific locations for all materials (pencil pouches, tabs in notebooks, etc.)

Arrange for an organized helper (peer)

Frequent fidgeting with hands, feet or objects; squirming in seat

Give student opportunities to get up and move around. Allow space for movement.

Break tasks down into small increments and give frequent positive reinforcement for accomplishments (this type of behavior is often due to frustration)

Allow alternative movement when possible.

Poor adult interactions. Defies authority.

Provide positive attention.

Talk with student individually about the inappropriate behavior (What you are doing is… A better way of getting what you want or need is…)

Losing things necessary for task or activities at school or at home (e.g., pencils, books, assignments before, during and after completion of a given task)

Help student organize. Frequently monitor notebook and dividers, pencil pouch, locker, book bag, desks. Teach “a place for everything and everything in its place.”

Provide positive reinforcement for good organization.

Provide student with a list of needed materials and their locations.


Jim Rich
Director of Program Development & Review
Puget Sound ESD

Department of Education

The PAVE Parent Training and Information Program may include information on State or Federal laws regarding the rights of individuals with disabilities. While this is provided to inform or make one aware of these rights, legal definitions, or laws/regulations, it is not providing legal representation or legal advice. The recipient understands that this is information is to educate them not to provide them with legal representation.

What is a 504 plan?

Section 504 is a section of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that protects the rights of persons with disabilities.

It prohibits agencies or organizations, which receive federal funds, from discriminating against otherwise qualified individuals solely on the basis of disability.

What is a disability under 504?

An individual is determined to have a disability if she/he:

Has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities (walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks);

Has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

This can mean that a school-age child who has a disability and does not qualify for special education may still be entitled to accommodations or other services in regular education under Section 504.

What are “accommodations” under 504?

Accommodations must achieve meaningful, equal opportunity, must consider the functional limitations of the person and alternative methods of performance.  Some examples could include (but are not limited to) the following:  modified testing, preferential seating, taped textbooks, readers, tailoring homework assignments, etc.

Accommodations must be individualized.

The individual needs of the persons with a disability should be met to the same extent as the needs of persons without disabling conditions.

Modifications can be made to regular programs, or the provision of different programs may be necessary.

Accommodations must allow the student with a disability access to programs equal to that of the non-disabled student.

Are evaluations required under 504?

Yes, a district must evaluate “any person who, because of disability, needs or is believed to need special education and/or related services.”  Evaluation is also required prior to a significant change in placement.

Is an Individual Education Plan (IEP) required under 504?

An IEP is not required.  A plan describing placement and services must be developed.  A written plan provides documentation.  Placement decisions must be based on information from varied sources and must be documented.  All information must be considered.  Decisions must be made by a group of persons who are knowledgeable about the child, the meaning of the data and placement options.

What are the responsibilities of schools?

To be in compliance with Section 504, school districts must:

Provide written assurance of nondiscrimination.

Designate an employee to coordinate compliance.

Provide grievance procedures to resolve complaints.

Provide notice of non-discrimination in admission or access to its programs or activities.  Notice must be included in a student/parent handbook.

Annually identify and locate all qualified children with disabilities who are not receiving a public education.

Annually notify persons with disabilities and their parents or guardians of the district’s responsibilities under Section 504.

Provide parents or guardians with procedural safeguards:

(a)   Notice of their rights
(b)  An opportunity to review relevant records
(c)   An impartial hearing – parents or guardians must be notified of their right to request a hearing regarding the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of persons with disabling conditions.

How do I file a compliant with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR)?

Find someone in your regional OCR office (Office of Civil Rights, Department Of Education, 2901 Third Avenue, MS 106, Seattle, WA  98121, 206-220-7900) who understands the applications of Section 504 on education, and use that person as your contact.  Explain the situation, specify the issue and cite the area of concern.  OCR will review the information and decide if they will do a full investigation.

How is Section 504 different from I.D.E.A.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), lists categories of qualifying conditions.  Section 504 is much broader in its definition of disability.

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) under Section 504 means an education comparable to the education provided to students who are not disabled.

Under Section 504 a student is eligible if he meets the definition of “qualified disabled person.”  The student is not required to be in need of special education in order to be protected.

Section 504 does not provide additional funds.

Section 504 includes detailed regulations regarding building and program accessibility.

Section 504 requires notice of procedural safeguards; however it does not have to be written notice.

Section 504 requires notice, but not consent, prior to an initial evaluation.

Under Section 504 school districts must designate an employee to be responsible for assuring compliance and must provide a grievance procedure.

Section 504 protects students with disabilities, including those with IEPs, from discrimination based on disability.

The PAVE Parent Training and Information Program may include information on State or Federal laws regarding the rights of individuals with disabilities. While this is provided to inform or make one aware of these rights, legal definitions, or laws/regulations, it is not providing legal representation or legal advice. The recipient understands that this is information is to educate them not to provide them with legal representation.