Section 504 of the American Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a Civil rights act intended to prohibit discrimination and to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities. Section 504 states: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall solely by reason of his/her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance".
A disability under Section 504 is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as seeing, hearing, breathing, walking, learning, communicating, or the operation of a major bodily function, etc. "Substantial limitation" means an individual is restricted in performing a major life activity as compared to most people in the general population. An impairment may be considered a disability even if it is controlled or managed with measures such as medication, medical devices or other modifications. An impairment may be considered a disability even if it is intermittent, episodic or in remission, if the condition substantially limits a major life activity or major bodily function when it is in an active state. A student may qualify as disabled under Section 504 but due to the status of the student’s disability, the student may not need a Section 504 plan.
In order to be eligible under 504, a student must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. Led by a designated 504 Facilitator or Representative, the 504 Committee (parents, teachers, counselor, other individuals working with the student, and possibly the student) will review all pertinent information and determine whether or not the student meets all three criteria required for eligibility.