Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (2009), is a federal law protecting the rights of persons with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. The purpose of the Act is to prohibit discrimination on the basis of a disability and to assure that students with disabilities receive all educational opportunities, access to programs and activities, and benefits equal to those afforded to non-disabled students.
Students who are disabled under Section 504 and who do not otherwise qualify for special education or related services, are entitled to reasonable accommodations which may include regular and/or special education and related services if these services are required in order to meet the individual educational needs of students with disabilities as adequately as the needs of non-disabled persons.
Section 504 defines a disabled person as any person who:
- has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,
- has a record of such impairment, or
- is regarded as having such an impairment.
An eligible student under Section 504 is one who: has a record of having, or is regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities include, but are not limited to:
- caring for oneself
- performing manual tasks
A major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function or system, including but not limited to:
- functions of the immune system
- normal cell growth
- digestive system
- bowel function
- bladder function
- neurological processes
- brain function
- respiratory system
- circulatory system
- endocrine system
- reproductive system
Office of Civil Rights guidance indicates that in “virtually every case,” diabetes, epilepsy, bipolar disorder, and autism will result in eligibility under Section 504. Extensive documentation or analysis should not be required for these impairments. In Texas, Dyslexia also qualifies.