US Department of Education – Office of Civil Rights to review the Rehabilitation Act of 1973: Amendments to Section 504 being proposed

“Just as in 1977, the voices of people with disabilities must be heard and incorporated…” 
Catherine Lhamon

Assistant Secretary, US Dept of Education, Office of Civil Rights

 The US Dept of Education Office of Civil Rights recently announced that it intends to propose amendments to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Added in 1977, Section 504 has not been amended and has remained much the same for over 45 years. 

To further explain, Section 504, also known as the Protecting Students with Disabilities Act, provides accommodations for students with disabilities including academic, mental and physical support. A student with a 504 plan may, for instance, have individualized accommodations such as seating in a classroom’s front row, support for managing diabetes, or specific services to address anxiety. Services for students who qualify for Section 504 can take place in a general or special education classroom. Section 504 also requires schools to be physically accessible.

Section 504 applies to all levels of public education: elementary, secondary, and collegiate.

Often a grossly misunderstood portion of the Rehabilitation Act, public school systems who are not using Section 504 adequately has led to students with disabilities being underserved and under supported.  The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is more widely known and applied to student learning and accessibility planning, however opportunities to use IDEA and Section 504 together and create stronger learning and accommodation plans for students are being missed.

Here is where your input is needed. Public comment is being requested by the Department of Education and by the Office of Civil Rights.  It is  imperative that we add our voices to these comments.

As outlined by the US Department of Education website, the comments are to provide information for a proposal to amend regulations for Section 504, which would then need to go through another round of public input before being finalized by the Education Department.

Now is the time for us to speak up and share our thoughts.

About Section 504:

Learn more about Section 504: Protecting Students with Disabilities

Understand why changes to Section 504 are needed: Ed Department begins review of often misunderstood Section 504 rules

Submit Comments about Section 504: US Department of Education

Note: Please be sure to follow the specific instructions provided by the USDE so that your comments are seen and heard.

Questions about Section 504 and its importance to Deaf/HH students can be directed to Cheri at cheri@deafchildren.org

Please feel free to share the following graphics to your social media platforms and encourage input from your communities.