What Is the 504 Plan for Students With Disabilities?

What You Need to Know About the 504 Plan

Smiling students writing in classroom
Compassionate Eye Foundation/Robert Daly/OJO Images/Iconica/Getty Images

A 504 plan is an attempt to remove barriers and allow students with disabilities to participate freely in both public elementary and secondary education.

The 504 plan refers to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which specifies that no one with a disability can be excluded from participating in federally funded programs or activities, including elementary, secondary or post-secondary schooling.

Disability Defined

"Disability" in this context refers to a "physical or mental impairment, which substantially limits one or more major life activities." This can include physical impairments; illnesses or injuries; communicable diseases; chronic conditions like asthma, allergies and diabetes and learning problems.

A 504 plan spells out the modifications and accommodations that will be needed for these students to have an opportunity perform at the same level as their peers, and might include such things as wheelchair ramps, blood sugar monitoring, an extra set of textbooks, a peanut-free lunch environment, home instruction, or a tape recorder or keyboard​ for taking notes.

Leveling The Playing Field

Like the Americans With Disabilities Act, the 504 plan seeks to level the playing field so that those students can safely pursue the same opportunities as everyone else. A 504 plan aims to make sure that students with disabilities get the accommodations they need to participate in school just as they would if they didn't have a disability.

Section 504 states, "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.

Section 504 mandates that public schools districts offer a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to eligible students with disabilities in their constituencies, no matter how severe the disability is or what its nature is.

Depending on the student in question, an appropriate education could mean situating the student in a mainstream classroom with no supplementary services, a mainstream classroom with services or a special education classroom with services.

What Does a 504 Plan Look Like?

Wondering what a 504 Plan should look like? These templates and accommodation lists, put on the Web by school districts and disability organizations, can give you an idea of what to look at and look for when working with the school to put together a plan for your child.

504 Plan Forms and Information

Check these indexes of downloadable forms and handouts to find out how other school districts handle 504 planning.

All include blank 504 templates, plus information for parents and staff.

Related Articles:

Continue Reading