Transitioning Rights and Accommodations from IDEA to ADA and 504

The table below outlines the transition from the protections and accommodations provided under an Individualized Education Program (IEP) to the rights and accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act as students with disabilities move into higher education or the workforce.

AspectIDEAADA & Section 504
PurposeTo provide a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment to students with disabilities.To prevent discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.
EligibilitySpecific categories of disabilities; requires assessment and determination of need for special education and related services.Broad definition of disability; any individual with a disability who meets general entry or eligibility criteria for education programs or jobs.
AccommodationsTailored educational services and modifications to curriculum and environment based on individual needs.Reasonable accommodations in educational settings and workplaces, without significant modification to essential functions or undue burden.
ProtectionsEnsures FAPE; includes specific procedural safeguards related to educational decisions.Protects against discrimination; ensures equal opportunity and access but does not guarantee success or outcome.
Transition to Higher Education and/or WorkTransition planning and services must start by age 16, focusing on moving from school to post-school activities.Individuals must self-disclose their disability and request accommodations; institutions may require documentation to support the need for accommodations.
Accommodations in Education after High SchoolIEP ends after high school; however, the documentation can be used as part of the evidence to establish disability and need for accommodations under ADA and Section 504.Students should gather their IEP documents, evaluations, and any other relevant information to present to disability services in higher education or HR/employer to request reasonable accommodations.
Transitional Rights and Accommodations from IDEA to ADA and 504

Transitioning from high school to higher education or the workforce is a significant step for students with disabilities. Understanding the differences between IEP protections and the rights under ADA and Section 504 can empower individuals to advocate for the accommodations and support they need to succeed in their next phase of life. Remember, self-advocacy and knowledge of your rights are key components of this transition.