What’s inside this article: Information regarding what a 504 plan is, the difference between 504 plans and IEPs, how to decide if your child needs one, and what steps you need to take to get a 504 plan for your child.
In some public schools in the United States, anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of students have 504 plans.
Have you wondered whether or not your child could benefit from this kind of support? Are you confused about what 504 plans are or the kinds of accommodations they offer?
If so, read on to learn more, including the steps you need to take to get a 504 plan for your child.
What Is a 504 Plan?
A 504 plan is a formal plan developed for children with special needs or specific learning challenges. It ensures they get the support and accommodations they need while at school.
504 plans are available to any student whose needs limit their daily activities or affect their school performance.
In addition to accommodating students and giving them the tools they need to succeed, 504 plans also prevent discrimination. They protect students with disabilities and are covered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which is a civil rights law that was passed in 1973.
This also means a 504 plan is a legal document that your child’s school is required to follow.
Example 504 Plan Accommodations
504 Plans can include an array of accommodations depending on the child’s unique needs. The following are just a few examples:
- A quiet, interruption-free environment for taking tests and quizzes
- More frequent check-ins from the teacher to ensure they’re understanding key concepts taught in class
- Changes in the way curricula are presented, such as listening to audiobooks instead of reading written text or offering oral exams instead of written ones
- Separate sets of books/supplies to combat contamination fears
- Opportunities to leave class early to avoid crowded hallways and minimize social anxiety
For more ideas and examples, read: 50+ Student Accommodation Ideas to Help Kids Succeed at School
It’s important to note that students who receive 504 plans are still learning the same material as their peers. The content of their education doesn’t change, only the way they go about learning it.
504 plans simply eliminate barriers and create a more equal playing field for all students to thrive.
504 Plans vs. IEPs
A 504 plan is different from an Individualized Education Program (or IEP for short).
They’re both created with the goal of helping students to thrive in school, and they’re both available at no cost to the child’s family. However, IEPs are part of special education, and 504 plans are not.
There are also different requirements for students to receive IEPs compared to 504 plans.
For example, to qualify for an IEP, a child has to have at least one of the 13 disabilities that are listed in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (or IDEA). This list includes Specific Learning Disabilities, ADHD, autism, speech and language impairments, deafness, and orthopedic impairments.
504 plans, on the other hand, are available to any child with special needs or challenges that interfere with their ability to learn at school .
Because the definition of a disability is broader in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, some children who don’t qualify for IEPs can still get help through a 504 plan.
How to Get a 504 Plan
If you think your child will benefit from a 504 plan, here are some steps you can take to ensure they get the help they need:
Get Help for Your Child Today
Do you want to move forward with pursuing a 504 plan for your child? You can begin this process at any time throughout the school year.
Follow the steps outlined above so you can feel confident while advocating for them and getting the accommodations they need.
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