Section 504 is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education. Section 504 provides: "No otherwise qualified individual with handicaps in the United States shall, solely by reason of her or his handicap, as defined in section 706(8) of this title, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency or by the United States Postal Service." (29 U.S.C. Sec. 794)
Entitlement Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
A student with a disability may be entitled to services even if he/she has been deemed ineligible for special education under the criteria described above. For example, a student may have a physical impairment, such as cerebral palsy, but be progressing effectively in regular education. In this instance, the student would not be considered eligible for special education because he/she meets only one of the criteria necessary for enrollment in special education. However, the student may be entitled to services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and its implementing regulations 34 CFR 104.1 et sq.
Independent of Chapter 766, Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 applies to students who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity such as caring for oneself or performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, or working. A student who has a record of such an impairment or who is regarded as having such an impairment is also "an individual with handicaps."