Many parents have heard of a 504 school plan but they may be unsure of what they are or how they can help a child succeed in school. We’re here to help clear up the confusion!

At a high level, a 504 school plan identifies accommodations a child with a disability needs to fully participate in the classroom.

A 504 plan is different from an IEP plan, where students require individualized special education services.

Children with a 504 school plan stay with their mainstream class. The plan allows for accommodations to the learning environment to meet the needs of your child as adequately as other students.

A lot of parents may stop when they hear the word ‘disability’ and think my child won’t qualify… but hear us out. Disability in the context of a 504 plan can mean a lot of different things, it’s intentionally broad.

We’re going to go into more detail about the types of physical, learning, or attention issues a 504 school plan could cover. You might be surprised!

And the truth is, if your child has any kind of barrier to learning, you’re going to want to understand how a 504 plan works, the types of accommodations it can provide, and how to apply for one.

So let’s dig a little deeper into what a 504 school plan actually is.


What Is A 504 School Plan?

A 504 school plan can help a child with a disability who doesn’t qualify for special education, but who could benefit from a few accommodations in school.

Part of a civil rights law, a 504 plan is developed at the school level to customize a student’s learning environment to meet their specific needs.

The goal of a 504 plan is to remove barriers and allow students with disabilities to participate freely in public education. It seeks to level the playing field so those students can pursue the same academic opportunities as everyone else.

Kids who benefit from a 504 school plan are those students who are able to learn at a typical grade level if they’re provided appropriate accommodations. 504 students stay in their mainstream class.

So a child with intellectual disabilities will likely need an IEP, while a child with some other barrier to learning; like ADHD, diabetes, hearing loss, etc. may need a 504.


How Do I Know If My Child Is Eligible?

According to the U.S. Department of Education, a child with a disability is defined as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity and has a record of such an impairment.

There are a lot of conditions that can potentially fall under this umbrella.

This was done intentionally so that each school can determine eligibility on the basis of each individual case.

“Major life activities” can include a variety of functions required in daily life, from seeing or hearing to concentrating, communicating, and learning.

The Department of Education also includes “major bodily functions” in the list of life activities. So children with respiratory, bowel or bladder, immune, and other physical conditions can be protected under the law.

Therefore, any child who has any type of learning or physical disability that interferes with his ability to learn or to access school programs is eligible for a 504 school plan.

This can include children with visual or hearing issues. Or kids in wheelchairs with access issues.

It can also include kids with attention and behavior management issues such as: ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), or an SPD (sensory processing disorder) just to name a few.

Medical conditions such as diabetes, extended or chronic illness, and even severe food allergies can also be covered.

What we’re saying is that LOTS of issues can potentially fall under 504 plan eligibility. This list is by no means complete.

So if there is something going on with your child that is preventing them from having the same learning experience as their peers, you might want to look into a 504 school plan.

Putting a plan like this in place can get your child the extra help or resources they need. 


What Types Of Accommodations Can A 504 Provide?

A 504 school plan spells out (in writing) the modifications and accommodations your child needs to have the same opportunity as their classmates.

This can include all sorts of things. You might be surprised at some of the resources available!

It can mean accommodations such as:

  • Wheelchair ramps and modified desks
  • Blood sugar monitoring
  • Extra set of textbooks
  • Home instruction
  • Technology such as a tape recorder or keyboard for taking notes, voice-to-text aides, etc.
  • Placing a child at the front of the classroom
  • Requiring teachers to receive training in your child’s particular disability (e.g., CPR training, ADHD instruction)
  • Providing a child with extra time or a quiet space for taking a test or doing homework
  • Providing a child with an allergen-free environment

This 504 accommodations list is by no means exhaustive. Your child’s school will determine which resources and modifications can best help free your child from learning obstacles.


How Do I Get My Child A 504 Plan?

Your first step is to meet with your child’s teacher and an administrator so you can request a 504 Evaluation.

Schools are not legally required to evaluate your child based upon your request alone. A school must be convinced that your child is experiencing an impairment that is limiting a “major life activity” for your child.

Therefore when requesting a 504 Evaluation, it’s helpful if you can provide documentation  from your child’s doctor. Something that explains the nature of your child’s disability and details exactly how the condition impairs their education.

The evaluation is where your school will make the determination if a 504 school plan should be put into place. Then the next step would be to complete the written 504 plan form itself.

A 504 can be a really useful tool that helps your child receive the instruction he or she needs inside the classroom.

It can make a significant difference in your child’s learning experience while letting them enjoy time with their classmates.

If you think your child may benefit from a few accommodations, ask about it at your school!


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