What Accommodations Are Available in a 504 Plan?
Schools that receive federal funding are not permitted to discriminate against children with disabilities. Federal law mandates that every child must have access to Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires school districts to provide FAPE to those students with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Students with disabilities that don’t meet the requirements for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) under IDEA may benefit from a 504 plan. Although a 504 plan lacks the major protections of an IEP, when properly implemented a 504 plan can help teachers, parents, and administrators determine the best accommodations to prevent discrimination and facilitate the learning process.
What Is a 504 Plan?
A 504 evaluation is a formal process where parents and educators work together to create a plan to best accommodate an individual student’s needs. There are no specific eligibility categories for a 504 plan. Any student without an IEP who has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity may be eligible for a 504 plan.
Parental consent is required for an initial 504 evaluation and any formal assessments that the school may choose to apply. Parents may submit a written request for a 504 evaluation, or the process may be initiated by an educator.
A 504 plan is more flexible than an IEP. Schools are free to design a 504 plan as they see fit. The major goal of a 504 plan is to provide accommodations to make the learning process smoother. Teachers, parents, and administrators work together to assess the child’s needs and design strategies to facilitate learning. When the student is old enough, they may also contribute to 504 planning.
A 504 plan may include accommodations to address disabilities that hinder the child’s ability to carry out essential activities, including the following areas:
- Sustaining attention
- Low self-esteem
- Test taking
- Organization and planning
- Study skills
- Math skills
- Oppositional behavior
- Social skills
How a 504 Plan Differs from an IEP
Similar to an IEP, a 504 plan is designed to accommodate student learning in the least restrictive environment. Teacher recommendations, test scores, parent observations, and officially documented physical or mental impairments should all be considered when designing a 504 plan. Ideally, this should be a collaborative process.
A 504 plan differs from an IEP in the following ways:
- A 504 plan is more generalized.
- A 504 plan is not tied to specific disabilities.
- There are no federal funds targeted directly for students with a 504 plan.
- Parents cannot request an independent evaluation if you disagree with a school’s assessment.
- Regular meetings are not required, but they can be requested by parents or educators.
- Evaluations are not required, but they can help determine the best accommodations.
- Parents don’t have to be notified about planning meetings.
Accommodations That May Be Part of a 504 Plan
A 504 should contain a list of specific accommodations, modifications, and academic support services that the child will receive, the names of school staff who are responsible for providing these services, and the individual responsible for monitoring 504 and ensuring its proper implementation.
Accommodations designated by a 504 plan may include:
- Extra time to complete class work and homework assignments
- Modified classwork and homework assignments
- Modified testing, including study aids, oral instruction, additional time, and privacy
- Preferential seating close to instructor
- Peer assistance
- Visual aids
- Assisted listening headsets
- Large print displays
- A behavior intervention plan
- Reduced visual and auditory distractions
- Check homework regularly
- Simplify complex directions
- Provide directions orally
Is Your Child Getting the Special Education Services They Need?
At Woodsmall Law Group, we serve children with special needs and their parents in Los Angeles County, focusing on the San Gabriel Valley. We have been helping families make the most out of their educational opportunities for over 18 years.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s placement or the services they are receiving, please call (626) 440-0028 to schedule a FREE initial consultation. We speak English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Polish, and Spanish.