Section 504 FAQ

Here are answers to questions frequently asked about Section 504 accommodations.

This FAQ is based on background information taken from the Illinois State Board of Education’s website. You can find the original material here.

► What is Section 504?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education.

► What educational right does Section 504 establish for students?

Section 504 establishes a student’s right to full access to and participation in education and all school-related activities. It requires schools to provide appropriate services to meet the individual needs of qualified students.

► Who qualifies under Section 504?

A student is considered “qualified” under Section 504 if the student has a disability, which is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include caring for oneself, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, performing manual tasks and learning.

► What are some examples of qualifying impairments under Section 504?

The following are some examples of impairments that may substantially limit major life activities, even with the help of medication, aids or devices: allergies, asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), blindness or visual impairment, deafness or hearing impairment, diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease, and mental illness.

► Does the use of “mitigating measures” disqualify a student under Section 504?

With the passage of the ADA Amendments Act in 2008, Congress expanded the scope of "major life activities” and clarified that a disability determination under the ADA and Section 504 should not demand extensive analysis, which is why the ameliorating effects of mitigating measures (other than ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses) are no longer considered when making a determination.