About 504 Plans

These are for students with disabilities who do not need special services or instruction, but still need some kind of support or "accommodation".

What is a 504 Plan?

  • It's a set of adjustments to the learning environment (accommodations) to help a child meet their needs in the classroom.

  • It's meant to give students with disabilities equal access to all parts of the school day.

  • It's for kids who don't need specialized instruction, and it's a bit less involved and formal than an IEP, which lists very specific services and goals.

  • The name comes from Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act, which is a civil rights law.

What are accommodations?

  • They are changes in the classroom environment to remove the barriers to learning that are because of a child's disability.

  • They give a child equal access to the regular things they need to do and learn in school.

  • There are many different kinds.

Accommodations "even the playing field."

They are small changes to allow students with disabilities to access the same education as everyone else.

504 accommodations might include:

  • Change in desk placement or headphones to avoid distractions

  • Extra time to take tests

  • Adaptive equipment like hearing aids or special keyboards

  • Assistive technology devices like iPads with communication software

  • An aide (classroom helper)

  • Support in non-academic and after-school activities

Click here for a 504 Accommodations Checklist and to see examples of what could be included in a 504 plan. (It will open in a new tab on your screen)

Sources: Casey Family Programs, Understood

What are the criteria for a 504 Plan?

A student must have a mental or physical impairment that substantially impairs a major life activity and requires special accommodations.

  • Major life activities include things like breathing, walking, learning, caring for one’s self, seeing, speaking, doing manual tasks, hearing, and working.

Here's what you can do:

  • Learn about 504 plans and how they compare with an IEP.

  • Think about the services the school is suggesting for your child.  Decide if they are enough or if you want to push for getting an IEP.

  • If you agree, the school will tell you what happens next.  If you don't agree, look at the section in the menu about solving a disagreement with the school.

A student who has a 504 plan needs adjustments to the learning environment so they can have equal access to all parts of the school day.


They do not meet the requirements for an IEP, which outlines very specific services and goals.

Image showing two boxes with 'vs.' inbetween them. The first box has the heading IEP with text below saying 'Describes specialized instruction or services. The student may work with a learning specialist inside or outside the regular class. The second box has the heading 504Plan with text below saying 'Describes accommodations to help the student in the classroom: usually small changes that help them follow the general curriculum.'

  • Both are for students with confirmed disabilities.

  • The 504 Plan gets its name from Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act law. This requires schools to allow students with disabilities equal access to education and extra-curricular activities.

  • Special education is governed by a different law, IDEA: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Click on this link to learn more: The difference between IEPs and 504 plans

Sources: Casey Family Programs, U.S. DOE, Understood

To learn more about 504 plans, click on these links (they'll open in a new tab):

Sources: Casey Family Programs, U.S. DOE, Understood

Sources: Casey Family Programs, U.S. DOE, Understood

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