About 504 plans

504 plans are for students with disabilities who can succeed in school without the special services from an IEP, but still need some kind of support or "accommodation".

What is a 504 Plan?

  • It's a set of accommodations, or supports, to help a child meet their needs in the classroom.

  • 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.

  • A student who has a 504 plan needs adjustments to the learning environment (accommodations) and maybe some services so they can have equal access to all parts of the school day.

The 504 Plan gets its name from Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act 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.

What is a 504 Plan?

  • A set of accommodations, or supports, to help a child meet their needs in the classroom.

  • For kids who don't need specialized instruction

  • A bit less involved and formal than an IEP, which lists very specific services and goals.

Accommodations do not change what your child is learning, but rather how they learn. Your child will be held to the same expectations as all other students.

504 accommodations might include:

  • A person assigned to help your child personally, like an aide or a reader

  • Extra time to take tests or do homework

  • Special devices or other equipment to help with communication, sensory or physical needs

  • Special placement in the room to help reduce distractions

  • Nursing services or guidelines for responding to other medical needs

 

Sometimes you can arrange for these supports informally without an IEP or 504, but we always recommend getting everything in writing!

 

Click on the boxes below to learn more:

Accommodations are any kind of change or help that your child will need in the classroom in order to learn.

They come in many shapes and sizes. They "even the playing field" and give students with disabilities equal access to public education.

Here are some examples:

  • Modified homework, class work, and tests

  • Extra time for homework, class work, and tests

  • Extra set of books for home

  • Special seating placement in the classroom

  • Help moving about the building

  • Grading based on individual progress or effort

  • Test retake for better grades

  • Visual aids

  • Test directions read out loud

  • Use of calculator

  • Table of facts for reference

  • Frequent breaks

  • Behavior Intervention Plan

Sometimes they can be done informally without an IEP or 504, but we always recommend getting everything in writing!

Click here for a 504 Accommodations Checklist for more examples. (It will open in a new tab on your screen)

Sources: Casey Family Programs, Children's Law Center of Mass

 

To qualify for a 504 Plan, a student must have a "qualifying disability that substantially limits a major life activity.

  • Qualifying disability - a mental or physical impairment, including specific learning disabilities. The law doesn't give a complete list.

  • Substantially limits - this means the disability makes it much harder for your child to do something.

  • Major life activity - this includes taking care of one's self, walking, talking, seeing, hearing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating.

The law does not give specific lists of what these terms mean. You and the school evaluators should talk about how your child fits these criteria. Speak up if you think your child should qualify!

Source: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

How is a 504 plan different from an IEP?

A student who has a 504 plan needs adjustments to the learning environment and maybe some services 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.

The IEP describes specialized instructions or services. The student may work with a learning specialist inside or outside the regular class. The 504 plan describes accommodations to help the student in the classroom. These usually are 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.

  • IEPs are "Special Education" and are 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

Learn more about 504 plans

Click on these links (they'll open in a new tab):

 

Sources: Casey Family Programs, U.S Department of Education: Office for Civil Rights

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