Education Accommodations Under Section 504

Content Provided by: United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Indiana


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) applies only to students with disabilities who need special education services. Special education services are defined as special education and related services necessary to give the child a free, appropriate education. For some children with disabilities, their disability is not severe enough to qualify them for special education – but they still require some accommodations.

Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act covers accommodations needed by students who have disabilities but who don’t need special education. It applies not only to public schools but also to any program/school that receives federal financial assistance. The law requires that public schools provide qualified students with disabilities the reasonable accommodations necessary so they get an education comparable to the education of students without disabilities.

Examples of accommodations include:

  • Providing seating in the front row of a classroom
  • Modifying homework requirements
  • Changing the way tests are given (e.g. allowing a student who cannot write to type an exam or take it orally)
  • Allowing the use of tape recorders or audiovisual equipment in class
  • Adjusting class schedules
  • Selecting modified textbooks or workbooks
  • Using behavioral management techniques

Just like an IEP, an accommodation plan under Section 504 must be developed by a team of school professionals and the child’s parents. If the parents disagree with the plan, they have the right to request mediation or a due process hearing.

A student is covered under Section 504 if he or she:

  • has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working)
  • has a record of such an impairment
  • is regarded as having such an impairment

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