Section 504 Plans in College

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

Section 504 protects the right of students with disabilities to have equal access to education. How does this apply to students who go on to college? This lesson discusses this issue through an example that resembles real-life cases.

What is Section 504?

You often hear about Section 504, and it sounds very technical, but what exactly is it? Well, Section 504 is a civil rights law that's part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Its purpose is to protect students with disabilities from discrimination in public and private schools that receive federal funding. After all, students with disabilities are often at a disadvantage in the classroom when compared to other students. So, Section 504 ensures that students with disabilities receive accommodations so that they have the same opportunities and equal access to educational services.

You may be wondering how Section 504 differs from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA protects the right to special education for students with disabilities. However, IDEA does not apply if a student does not need special education. In such a case, Section 504 may still apply, and the student may have a 504 plan developed to address his or her specific needs.

Section 504 in K-12

Let's look at a practical case: David is a disabled child due to moderate hearing loss. David's academic performance is at grade-level, which means he does not require special education. While he attends K-12 school, a 504 plan is in place so that David receives assistance to overcome his difficulty hearing classroom lectures and understanding instructions. The assistance comes through Christopher, an educational audiologist. This professional monitors David's reactions to noise, instructions, audio, and so forth, and he directs David's teacher to ways to establish better communication with David. This way, David receives accommodations to help him succeed in school.

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