Archive for the ‘Special Education’ Category

Section 504 FAQ

Friday, August 24th, 2012

 Authors:  Susan Patteson and Judy Butler


What is the purpose of Section 504?

Section 504’s main emphasis in the schools is equal educational opportunity, which is mainly accomplished by providing appropriate classroom accommodations to eligible disabled students. Section 504 also requires that eligible students are afforded an equal opportunity to participate in school extracurricular and nonacademic activities.

Section 504 is a nondiscrimination statute. The results of the disability must be that the student is unable to achieve equal access or benefit from the school’s program and activities as compared to a nondisabled peer. The existence of a physical or mental impairment does not mean that the child automatically qualifies under Section 504.

Who is disabled under Section 504?

An eligible Section 504 student is one with:

  1. a physical or mental impairment
  2. an impairment that substantially limits learning or another major life activity

The major life activities that were previously provided as examples were breathing, walking, seeing, hearing and learning. Through the ADA Amendment Act, Congress has provided examples of additional major life activities including major bodily functions (immune system, normal cell growth) as well as sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking and communicating. The major life activities in Section 504 regulations have always been meant to be examples and not an exclusive or exhaustive listing.

Unlike IDEA, Section 504 does not list a few disabilities (each with strict eligibility criteria) which result in eligibility. Instead, a broad formula is used to include many more disabilities. Specific physical or mental impairments are not listed in the regulations “because of the difficulty of ensuring the comprehensiveness of any such list .”  “ Department of Education”, last modified 3/17/2011,

American Disabilities Act and the Amendments Act of 2008

A person is substantially limited if he/she is: “Unable to perform a major life activity that the average person in the general population can perform,” 29 C.F.R. 1630.2(j).(1)(i).   Within the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, 122 STAT.3554 Public Law 110-325-Sept. 2008, Congress found that the current EOC ADA regulations defining the term “substantially limits” as “significantly restricted” are inconsistent with congressional intent, by expressing too high a standard.  Additionally, 122 STAT.3556 Public Law 110-325 –Sept. 25, 2008 states that “substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures.”  Mitigating measures may be summarized to include medication, medical supplies or equipment, use of assistive technology, reasonable accommodations or auxiliary aids or services, or learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications.

What is the role of Section 504 in the public schools?

34CFR 104.33(1) of Section 504 requires schools to provide a Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to eligible students and the Free Appropriate Public Education and related aids and services are based upon adherence to procedures that satisfy the requirements of Sec  104.34, 104.35, and 104.36.  These sections of the federal educational code provide guidelines for how public schools (or recipients of federal financial assistance) will evaluate and re-evaluate, determine eligibility, placement and setting, and implement procedural safeguards.

It also requires non-discrimination in non-academic and extracurricular programs and activities (the non-FAPE activities) as well as compliance with Section 504 procedural requirements (notice, access to relevant records, opportunity for impartial due process hearings and a review process).

What is FAPE ?

A Free Appropriate Public Education is defined under 34 CFR 104.33.  In summary, this federal statute of Title 34 of the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that each qualified handicapped person residing in the recipient’s jurisdiction receives an education that is:

  • free, regardless of the nature or severity of the person’s handicap
  • appropriate, either regular or special education and related aids and services, and
  • provided within the handicapped person’s Least Restrictive Environment.

ESC Region XIII’s online module “Understanding Basic 504 Procedures and Services: A Sample Campus Training Module” may be accessed by registering through our E-Campus system using Workshop # FA1224572.  This is a free, soon to be published online module that will assist district and campus staff in developing their own Section 504 processes to ensure FAPE and their adherence to Section 504 procedures.


ESC Region XIII Section 504 Site:

Judy Butler ( or 512.919.5168)

Susan Patteson (  or 512.919.5401)

Text of the federal statutes 34 CFR 104 of Section 504 and the ADA Amendments Act may be accessed through the Appendix of:

Texas Education Agency, “The Dyslexia Handbook-Revised 2007, Updated 2010: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders.”

Technology Tools Aligned to Type 2 Accommodations for Spelling

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Are you looking for technology tools aligned to Type 2 Accommodations for spelling? This matrix lists multiple options and provides live links for further information about each tool. You may access further information at


Download the Technology Tools Aligned to Type 2 Accommodations in Spelling PDF document below.

Also, don’t miss the  Lunch and Learn FREE Technolgy Webinar

Topic:  Type 2 Technology Tools for Spelling

Date: Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Time:  12 noon to 1pm

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:





Monday, December 12th, 2011

The “Dyslexia Bundled Accommodations” will no longer be a term applicable to STAAR administration. Instead,  students with dyslexia, dyslexia characteristics, and reading difficulties may be eligible for a wide range of accommodations on all content areas of the STAAR and STAAR End of Course assessments.  Considering the variability in the severity of difficulty students have with basic reading skills and test performance in all grades, and who may or may not be identified with dyslexia, this change in TEA policy makes sense.  TEA continues to engage in the process of establishing the most appropriate testing accommodation policies for students with dyslexia, but we can be relatively confident of the process required for students to access 2012 STAAR Accommodations.   First and foremost, the student must use the accommodations routinely in classroom or testing situations.  The accommodation decisions and plans will be made and documented by:

  • an RtI or Student Support Team if the student has been identified as dyslexic (but does not receive 504 or special education services),
  • a Section 504 Committee, if the student has dyslexia or has evidence of a reading difficulty as determined by a Section 504 committee (documented within an Individualized Accommodation Plan), or
  • an ARD Committee, if the student is reading disabled with dyslexic characteristics or has evidence of a reading difficulty (documented within an Individualized Educational Plan).

Additionally, LPAC committees/members are required to participate in any of these committees’ decision-making processes when accommodation decisions are being made for students who are ELL and who have disabilities.

Students meeting the eligibility criteria as determined by any of these three committees may have access to oral administration of question and answer choices for the reading passages (no more reading of proper nouns, and NEVER oral reading of passages).  These accommodations on the STAAR Reading test have now been extended to include students taking STAAR English I, II, and III assessments.   Oral Administration of test question and answer choices (including reading of tables, graphs, etc.) in the subject areas of Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies is also an allowable accommodation for eligible students with dyslexia.  For STAAR Writing in 4th, 7th, and English I-III, writing prompts ONLY may be read aloud to eligible dyslexic students.  Documentation for these Type 2 accommodations should be maintained within the student’s cumulative folder, and Type 2 accommodations will also need to be documented on the student’s STAAR test forms.  Additionally, the level of reading support also needs to be determined and documented on the student’s IAP or IEP as either:

  1. reading parts of the question and answer choices at student request, or
  2. reading all question and answer choices throughout the test section.

Reminder:  It is permissible to provide ANY 3rd grade student periodic reading assistance on the Mathematics section of the STAAR. This is not considered to be an accommodation.  Should the 3rd grade student need the Mathematics question and answer choices read in their entirety, this level of accommodation would be considered a Type 2 Accommodation and should be documented as such on the student’s test form.

The appropriate committee may also decide that the student needs extended time, allowable until the end of the school day.  Current verbal guidance from TEA (although not final or posted on the Accommodations Triangle) states that extended time for a 2nd day of administration will require an Accommodation Request Form and only in extreme cases of need will there be approval.

For specific student eligibility criteria and further accommodation guidelines for calculator use, math manipulatives, dictionary use, and supplemental aids, click on the live links on TEA’s Accommodations Triangle posted at the following web address:   

The Optional Test Administration Procedures and Materials document link which specifies allowable accommodations for all students has currently been removed from the above Accommodations Resource webpage and is being revised.  One possible revision will be that small group or individualized test administration will not be an allowable accommodation for all students, but will be a Type 2 Accommodation needing a committee’s decision and documentation for students meeting specific eligibility criteria.   Keep abreast of TEA updates by continuing to access the above Accommodations Resource webpage.

STAAR Dyslexia Accommodations Nov 2011