Section 504 is a federal anti-discrimination, civil rights statute designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs that receive federal funds. In simple terms, Section 504 requires the needs of students with disabilities to be met as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students.
A student shall be eligible for a Section 504 Plan if they they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.
(1) Physical or Mental Impairment
A physical or mental impairment is defined 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; genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or any mental or psychological disorder, such as intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional, and specific learning disabilities.
(2) Substantially Limits
The student’s physical or mental impairment must substantially limit one or more major life activities. Section 504 does not specifically define the term “substantially limits.” It is subject to interpretation on a case-by-case basis. Nevertheless, an impairment that substantially limits one major life activity need not limit other major life activities in order to be considered a disability. An impairment that is episodic or in remission is considered a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.
The determination whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures such as medication; medical supplies; equipment or appliances; low-vision devices (which do not include ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses); prosthetics, including limbs and devices; hearing aids and cochlear implants or other implantable hearing devices; mobility devices; oxygen therapy equipment and supplies; use of assistive technology; reasonable accommodations or auxiliary aids or services; or learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications.
(3) Major Life Activities
Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. A major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions. Learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating are typically, but not always, the major life activities utilized to determine Section 504 eligibility within the school setting.
For additional information or you think your child may be eligible for a Section 504 Plan, please contact the Student Support Services office at (714)220-6922.