Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that schools provide access to a "free, appropriate public education" (FAPE) for students with a physical or mental limitation which substantially limits learning or other major life activities. Schools may meet this requirement by meeting with school administrators, teachers and parents to consider appropriate programming for any student experiencing substantial difficulty in their learning which results from a physical or mental limitation.
Substantial Limitation in Learning:
A substantial limitation in learning must be demonstrated by an educational need, such as a serious deficit and/or serious behavior problem resulting from the student's disability and not from other causes.
Major Life Activity:
Functions such as learning, self-care, walking, seeing, hearing, breathing, working, and performing manual tasks.
Determined on a case-by-case basis, based on evaluative data. ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, diabetes, and cancer are all examples of limitations or impairments that may fall in this category. A child who has no learning or behavior problems but who needs insulin shots, asthma treatments or other similar procedures administered at school in order to be able to attend school would presumably be considered to have an educational need under 504, as would a mobility-impaired child who needs a wheelchair ramp. Students needing medication (Ritalin, antidepressants, etc.) are also included.
Physical or Mental Impairment:
A. 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; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin and endocrine.
B. Any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
Free, Appropriate Education (FAPE)
The provision of regular or special education and related aids or services designed to meet individual educational needs. The education must be provided without cost, except for fees that are also paid by non-handicapped students.
Where to find the Section 504 Federal Guidelines: