Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is an antidiscrimination statute that is designed to provide equal access to education programs, services, and activities for students with physical or mental health impairments. It requires that the needs of students with disabilities be met to the same degree as the needs of students without disabilities and guarantees them a free and appropriate public education. Section 504 prohibits discrimination in providing educational services as well as discrimination in the form of harassment because of the disability.
Under Section 504, students with a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity may be eligible for accommodations within the general education setting.
Mental or physical impairments are defined as:
“any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities”
Major life activities include, but are not limited to: walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks.