Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities, public or private, that receive federal financial assistance. This law conforms to the definition of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). Section 504 does not provide funding for special education or related services, but it does permit the federal government to take funding away from programs that do not comply with the law.
How Does an Individual Qualify as Disabled Under Section 504?
There is no specific mention of learning disabilities in Section 504, however, the law defines a person as disabled if he or she:
- has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities,
- has a record of such an impairment, or
- is regarded as having such an impairment. 28 CFR Sec. 36.104
Under the regulation, learning, reading, thinking and concentrating among others listed in the ADAAA are all considered major life activities. As a general rule, if a child is eligible for services under IDEA, he or she qualifies for protection under Section 504. However, not all students covered by Section 504 are eligible for IDEA-related services. Section 504 has much broader definitions of disability and so it pertains to many more people.