Section 504 updated: Greater eligibility and accommodations for students with LD, AD/HD
Learn about recent improvements made to Section 504, a civil rights law that now provides protection and accommodations to even more students with LD and/or AD/HD.
Why do you need to know about these changes?
While the ADAAA is already in effect, don’t assume your school district fully understands how it applies to Section 504. To advocate effectively for your child, you’ll want to understand:
- How the law has changed
- How the new law may apply to your child
- What steps you can take to ensure your child is properly evaluated and/or accommodated under Section 504.
By Kristin Stanberry , Laura Kaloi, MPA
Did you know that, effective January 2009, eligibility for protection under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act became broader? Some students who did not qualify for Section 504 in the past, or who were not eligible for services and supports under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), may now qualify for Section 504 plans. Students with such plans may now qualify for additional supports, services, auxiliary aids and/or accommodations in public schools. For many students with learning disabilities (LD) and/or AD/HD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), this is good news! These positive changes are the result of recent amendments to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), a broad civil rights law that also impacts Section 504.
You’ll be especially interested in these developments if:
- Your child was evaluated under IDEA but was found ineligible.
- Your child was previously evaluated for Section 504 but was found ineligible.
- Your child is currently receiving informal accommodations in school.
- Your child has a Section 504 plan in place. (If your child has an IEP, he is automatically considered to have a 504 plan.)
- Your child needs accommodations on the SAT or ACT.
- Your teenager is getting ready to go college.
What’s the connection between Section 504 and the ADA?
What does the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) have to do with Section 504? Both are civil rights laws that protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination. Section 504 was enacted in 1973 and applies to all programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. This includes public schools, colleges and universities as well as certain employers, state and local government programs and places of public accommodation (such as public libraries). So the common denominator between Section 504 and the ADAAA related to school-age students is protecting students with disabilities from being discriminated against in public schools.
The ADAAA includes a conforming amendment to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act; meaning that the newly expanded coverage under the ADAAA also applies to Section 504. Matt Cohen, an attorney who works on behalf of children with disabilities in disputes with public schools, explains, “Because ADA and 504 are interpreted in parallel, the ADAAA will be applied to the public schools in their interpretation of both the ADAAA and Section 504.”
Reprinted with permission from the National Center for Learning Disabilities. All rights reserved.