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Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
Caring for Our People with Disabilities & Chronic Illness

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willie and  student in class When you don't need special education but you still need help: An Introduction to 504

You may hear that a student does not qualify for special education but has ‘a 504 plan’.

What is 504 and what is a 504 plan? A 504 plan guarantees a student has an equal opportunity to a free public education that meets his needs and that, as much as possible, is in 'regular' classes with students without disabilities.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 insures that all qualified persons have equal access to education regardless of the presence of any disabling condition.

Physical accommodations in classroom and lab space, course substitutions, changes in classroom presentations, and modifications in testing and all possible ways to provide access for students with disabilities. This includes secondary and post-secondary education institutions.

The law provides for individual modifications and accommodations for people with disabilities attending high schools and colleges. By law,  individuals with disabilities are to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). This education must occur in the least restrictive environment (LRE), with aids and supports when necessary.

Modification as defined by the law : Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 describes how these aids and supports are provided for individuals with disabilities. The Act discusses the following changes. Changes in

course content
teaching strategies
student responses
environmental structuring

--- which provide access for a student with a disability to participate in a course/standard/test which, DO fundamentally alter or lower the standard or expectations of the course/standard/test. For example, an eighth-grade student in a small school uses a wheelchair. He could attend physical education with other eighth-grade students without disabilities. He would do the swimming with the rest of the class, but during the weeks the class played basketball he would do other exercises. This DOES change the course. Why would the teacher or school do this? (Go to the next page for one answer.)

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