Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, commonly referred to as Section 504, is a federal civil rights law that protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability.


Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, commonly referred to as Section 504, is a federal civil rights law that protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability. Section 504 requires public schools provide parents and students with disabilities procedural safeguards that are very similar to the protections afforded to parents under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has the responsibility and authority to enforce Section 504, as well as other laws prohibiting discrimination.


  • Compliance to Section 504, which is a federal statute, is not optional.
  • Section 504 is an anti-discrimination, civil rights statute that requires the needs of students with disabilities to be met as adequately as the needs of the non-disabled are met.
  • Section 504 covers students whose disabilities significantly limit their daily lives and activities in one or more ways. These ways may include, but are not limited to:
    • Breathing
    • Hearing
    • Learning
    • Seeing
    • Caring for oneself
    • Walking
    • Functions related to the immune system, brain, respiratory system, and reproductive functions, among others
  • Indiana requires that parents interested in having their child tested for eligibility need to express their interest to the school in writing, and the school must respond to that request within 10 days. After that, the initial screening process can begin. The response from the school should require an evaluation timeline, a description of the procedures that will take place, and how the parents can receive more detailed information (which may include a meeting) from the school.
  • Once a school has determined the area of needs for the child, the district will need parental consent to move forward with the process. The next step is an evaluation of the student’s needs, conducted by the multidisciplinary team, or M-team.
  • Indiana law specifies that the evaluation report must include information about the following, when applicable:
    • Student development
    • The student’s ability to obtain information
    • Achievements in school
    • Behaviors and function in class
    • Communication, social, and motor skills
    • Medical and mental health information
  • Using the child’s disability or disabilities, the M-team can create a 504 plan. A student’s plan must meet their individual needs, and outline all recommended accommodations. Parents need to approve the plan before it can be put into action. Reevaluations must occur once every three years and are mandatory before any changes to the plan can be made.
  • Accommodations may include:
    • Medical administration, or testing of blood levels
    • Access to services in alternative locations
    • Use of tape recorders, calculators, and/or digital books
    • Note taking
    • Alterations to class scheduling
    • Modified tests, homework, and classwork
    • A behavior management plan
    • Time modifications for assessments



  • (Added 10/13/23, ASCA Scene): Amy Carlson of Lake Worth, Florida created a Google form based on a checklist for determining substantial limitation to learning. You can make a copy for each student and send this to the teachers, and then use the results to help guide eligibility conversations. She recommends using conditional formatting to highlight in yellow wherever a teacher responds “sometimes” or “hardly ever” so it’s clear where the problem areas may be. Although this is meant to help determine substantial interference to learning, it will also show if teachers are seeing issues with concentration, completing work, completing classroom tests on time, etc. To access the spreadsheet after teachers have responded, go to the “responses” tab in the form and click “link to sheets.” There is a formula in the spreadsheet to tally the responses. You can access that here: docs.google.com/forms/d/… You will have to copy and paste the formula for each student. It doesn’t carry over for some reason when you copy the form. If they are requesting specific accommodations, you may also use this form to collect teacher feedback: docs.google.com/forms/d/… This one only has testing accommodations but you can add more depending on the student.
  • (CounselorTalk, May 2023): It seems we are all in the same boat and have the same struggles.  Several people asked me to share my findings.  Below is what I found from a 504 Facebook Group.  The OCR is expected to release new proposed regulations this month regarding 504 practices.
  • Q: I have a parent who wants reduced assignments quantity and a shortening of assignments at the high school level in a 504. Can this be done and still qualify for a Core 40 or General Diploma?
    • A: You are not changing the curriculum; therefore, shortening the assignment or quantity IS simply a modification to “level the playing field”. This can absolutely be accomplished for any type of diploma. Students in college and adults in the workforce can even qualify for 504 accommodations. Anytime a person’s “life-functions” are impaired (eating, breathing, sleeping, or learning–mobility included also) they can qualify for a 504 regardless of a disability. If you are unsure or have questions, you can always contact the Office of Civil Rights. Here is a wonderful resource to read and know inside and out: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/504-resource-guide-201612.pdf
    • A: I agree, the only thing I would add is that there must be documentation that supports the change and the 504 team must determine it is appropriate.
    • A: I agree. Changing the amount is not changing the content. Amount is an accommodation; content is a modification.
  • Q: Examples of 504 forms from other schools?
  • Certificate of Incapacity and 504: Cathy Danyluk with the Indiana Department of Education, who clarified that this is a confusing issue, but that a 504 is NOT required (Counselor Talk, November 2017)
  • Parent and student behavior components: many of us are writing parent and student behavior components into 504s. However in reality, we can not force parents to follow them. By writing it in the 504 we are acknowledging that parents and students have responsibilities but that is as far as we can go.
  • Students suffering from anxiety and depression, affecting school attendance:

Our special education cooperative representative…explained that an adjusted schedule/attendance plan could be a [504] accommodation.  We required medical notes with statements recommending the adjustment. We had our building principal attend the 504 meeting to be sure the parents were on the same page as far as the seriousness of there actually needing to be effort put into getting this student into the building. With an emphasis being that the more time spent out of the building then the more anxiety there will be when they return…Maybe a “guidance pass” could be part of the 504 as well. We provide a guidance pass as an accommodation for students that need to get out of class and take a quick break for one emotional reason or another.  (Counselor Talk, Sept. 2017)


If you have suggestions, feedback, or resources, please email counselor1stop@inspiresuccess.org and let us know.