What help is available for children who don't need special education but require accommodations?
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal civil rights law that requires school districts to provide students who are "qualified disabled" "reasonable accommodations" necessary to ensure access to all public school programs and activities. A child would be considered "disabled" under Section 504 if the student has "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as walking, seeing, speaking and learning." Some children may not require special education services but do need other accommodations or services because of their disability.
For example, a student who has juvenile arthritis may need physical accommodations such as a computer or word processor to participate in school programs and activities, but does not need "special education" provided through an Individualized Education Program. A team of teachers and specialists in each school is responsible for developing and annually reviewing a 504 Accommodation Plan, describing the supports and services for each child. Parents are invited to participate in the meeting to develop this plan.
Questions about Section 504 should be directed to your child’s guidance counselor. The school building administrator has direct responsibility to implement 504 accommodations.