Student Services » 504 Services - American Disabilities Act

504 Services - American Disabilities Act

504 Services under ADA
The American Disabilities Act requires that reasonable accommodations be provided to
students with disabilities who meet the requirements. A school is required to provide a student
with those accommodations that help him or her learn most effectively. Section 504 applies to
entities that receive federal funds.

To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to: (1) have a physical or
mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or (2) have a
record of such an impairment; or (3) be regarded as having such an impairment. The
determination of whether a student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially
limits a major life activity must be made on the basis of an individual inquiry. The Section 504
regulatory provision at 34 C.F.R. 104.3(j)(2)(i) defines a physical or mental impairment 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; genito-urinary;
hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or any mental or psychological disorder, such as
mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning
disabilities. The regulatory provision does not set forth an exhaustive list of specific diseases
and conditions that may constitute physical or mental impairments because of the difficulty of
ensuring the comprehensiveness of such a list.

Major life activities, as defined in the Section 504 regulations at 34 C.F.R. 104.3(j)(2)(ii), include
functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing,
speaking, breathing, learning, and working. This list is not exhaustive. Other functions can be
major life activities for purposes of Section 504. In the Amendments Act, Congress provided
additional examples of general activities that are major life activities, including eating, sleeping,
standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating. Congress also
provided a non-exhaustive list of examples of “major bodily functions” that are major life
activities, such as the functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel,
bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.
This list of examples of major life activities is not exclusive, and an activity or function not
specifically listed can be a major life activity.

Public schools are required to provide a free appropriate public education to qualified students
with disabilities. Such an education consists of regular or special education and related aids and
services designed to meet the individual educational needs of students with disabilities as
adequately as the needs of students without disabilities are met. Public schools are not
required to make adjustments or provide aids or services that would result in a fundamental
alteration of a recipient's program or impose an undue burden.

As long as the student remains eligible, the protections of Section 504 continue. If a school
district re-evaluates a student in accordance with the Section 504 regulatory provision at 34
C.F.R. 104.35 and determines that the student's mental or physical impairment no longer
substantially limits his/her ability to learn or any other major life activity, the student is no
longer eligible for services under Section 504.

The amount of information required for eligibility is determined by the multi-disciplinary
committee gathered to evaluate the student. The committee should include persons
knowledgeable about the student, the meaning of the evaluation data, and the placement
options. The committee members must determine if they have enough information to make a
knowledgeable decision as to whether or not the student has a disability. The Section 504
regulatory provision at 34 C.F.R. 104.35(c) requires that school districts draw from a variety of
sources in the evaluation process so that the possibility of error is minimized. The information
obtained from all such sources must be documented and all significant factors related to the
student's learning process must be considered. These sources and factors may include aptitude
and achievement tests, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social and cultural
background, and adaptive behavior. In evaluating a student suspected of having a disability, it is
unacceptable to rely on presumptions and stereotypes regarding persons with disabilities or
classes of such persons. Compliance with the IDEA regarding the group of persons present,
when an evaluation or placement decision is made, is satisfactory under Section 504.