Section 504

Section 504 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973  (a federal civil rights law, not an education law) that prohibits discrimination of an individual based upon their identified disability.  Section 504 is an anti-discrimination, civil rights statute that requires the needs of students with disabilities to be met as adequately as the needs of the non-disabled students are met.  Section 504 states that, “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 706(8) of this title, shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance”...[29 U.S.C. §794(a), 34 C.F.R. §104.4(a)].  This law conforms to the definition of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). 

The purpose of Section 504 is to eliminate discrimination on the basis of a students disability.

The definition of a disability: A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. A record of such an impairment or being regarded as having such an impairment. A major life activities include but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, working and the operation of major bodily function (i.e. immune system, etc.)

Section 504 vs IDEA (IEP needed)
IDEA students have disabilities which result in an educational need for specially designed instruction. 504 students have disabilities which do not result in a need for specially designed instruction. Simply put, a 504 deals with accommodations and modifications, IEPs deal with material alteration, specialized education plans, and related services.

504 Plan

Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

Type of Law Required because of Rehabilitation Act of 1973 
Required because of IDEA
Department Office of Civil Rights Department of Education
Requirements for Eligibility Has a disability that significantly impacts a major life function. Has a disability that:

1. Meets criteria under IDEA.
2. Significantly impacts educational performance.
3. Requires specialized services.
What is included?  Accommodations and modifications. Specialized education services, accommodations, and related services. 
Age Limits?  No age limits. IEP offered through 12th grade. 
Where is the plan used? School, work, and college. 504 may transfer to college.  Through 12th grade. Does not transfer to college.