Section 504 defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a person’s ability to participate in a major life activity, such as learning.


Section 504 is more broadly defined than Special Education. A child that is not qualified for an IEP may qualify for a 504.

Section 504 defines a person with a disability as someone who:

  • Has a physical or mental impairment that “substantially” limits one or more major life activity (such as reading or concentrating).
  • Has a record of the impairment.
  • Is regarded as having an impairment, or a significant difficulty that isn’t temporary. For example, a broken leg isn’t an impairment, but a chronic condition, like a food allergy, might be.

Section 504
Understanding 504 Plans from

Step by Step
Learn how to apply for services.

Federal Information

OCR Section 504
Protecting Students with Disabilities.