Section 504, of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is a federal law that protects the rights of people with disabilities in activities and programs that receive Federal financial assistance from the Department of Education. It 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 calls for school districts to make available a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) to each student with a disability within the school district’s jurisdiction, no matter the severity or nature of the disability. This consists of the provision of special or regular education and services and aids used to meet the educational needs of students with disabilities to equal the needs of non-disabled students.
Section 504 covers students with disabilities attending schools that receive Federal financial assistance. To be qualified under section 504, a student must have: (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. Section 504 states that school districts must provide FAPE to the above qualified students within their jurisdictions who have a mental or physical impairment that “substantially limits” major life activities.
The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services is a part of the U.S Department of Education and is tasked with managing the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a statute that is responsible for funding education programs. Each state’s educational agency is tasked with administering IDEA in their own state and allocating the funds for special education programs. There are many conditions that must be met to receive Federal IDEA distributions.
The office for Civil Rights (OCR), in the department of education, is available upon request to provide technical assistance to school districts. Policy and regulation information can be found at the OCR website: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html.
We hope you found this information useful. Please contact us if you require any additional info on section 504, questions about ASL, or any other interpretation needs. We can provide any and all interpretation services and help keep you in compliance with section 504 requirements.