No qualified handicapped (disabled) person shall, on the basis of handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits, of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity which receives or benefits from Federal financial assistance.” (34 C.F.R. Part 104.4)
The Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a national law that protects qualified individuals from discrimination based on their disability. The nondiscrimination requirements of the law apply to employers and organizations that receive financial assistance from any Federal department or agency, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). These organizations and employers include many hospitals, nursing homes, mental health centers and human service programs.
Section 504 defines a person with a disability as anyone who:
Has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working;
Has a record of such impairment or
Is regarded as having such an impairment.
Section 504 is designed to provide equal access in general education to students with disabilities, thereby leveling the playing field for them through what is known as a Section 504 Accommodation Plan. The Accommodation Plan is not a plan designed to enhance a student’s performance. It is a plan to provide fairness and equal access to education for students who have a disability.