504 Information

Introduction to Section 504

Section 504 is a provision of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination. Originally written to prevent employment discrimination, it applies to the educational setting as well. The Act was amended by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (Amendments Act) - those changes (see list at right) were effective January 1, 2009.

The core of Section 504 is this statement:  No otherwise qualified individual with adisability shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Changes to Section 504 in the Amendments Act
  • The definition of disability under Section 504 and the ADA should be interpreted in favor of broad coverage.
  • The ameliorating effects of mitigating measures (other than ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses) should not be considered in determining whether an individual has a disability.
  • The phrase "major life activities" has been clarified by providing a non-exhaustive list of general activities and a non-exhaustive list of major bodily functions.
  • When dealing with an impairment that is episodic or in remission, it is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.
  • The phrase "regarded as" having a disability has been clarified, and it has been confirmed that individuals "regarded as" having a disability are not entitled to accommodations or modifications but must still be free from discrimination.