Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires public schools to offer accommodations for eligible students with disabilities. These accommodations help students with special health needs to participate in New York City Department of Education (DOE) programs and activities on an equal basis with their peers who do not have disabilities.
DOE program or activity means those sponsored by the DOE, including PA/PTA sponsored after-school programs or extracurricular activities in a DOE building. Parents who have questions or are concerned about their child’s access to a DOE or non-DOE extracurricular program may contact their school 504 Coordinator or principal, Health Director, or email 504Questions@schools.nyc.gov.
For more information and answers to frequently asked questions, review the 504 Accommodations: Student & Family Guide and Chancellor’s Regulation A-710 (Section 504 Policies and Procedures for Students).
Your child may be eligible for health services and/or other types of accommodations.
Students qualify for 504 Accommodations if:
- They have a physical or mental impairment; and
- The impairment substantially limits at least one major life activity.
Physical or Mental Impairments
Some examples of physical or mental impairments are physical disabilities, health conditions, mental disorders, and learning disabilities.
- Short term impairments (like a broken leg) may qualify a student for 504 accommodations. Such accommodations vary depending on how long the impairment lasts, and how limiting it is.
- Episodic impairments (like asthma) may qualify a student for 504 accommodations. Students are qualified if the impairment substantially limits a major life activity when it is active.
Examples of Major Life Activities:
Caring for oneself, communicating, bending, breathing, doing tasks with one’s hands, eating, focusing, hearing, learning, lifting, major bodily functions, reading, seeing, sleeping, speaking, standing, thinking, walking, working.
The major life activity substantially limited need not be "learning" for a student to be eligible for 504 accommodations.
Does your child have an impairment that substantially limits them in any of the life activities listed above? If so, your child may qualify for accommodations under Section 504.
Once the correct forms are submitted to the school (described below), each student’s case is reviewed individually.
The 504 Coordinator will contact you to schedule a meeting. As explained below, you will be part of the school-based 504 Team that meets to discuss your request and other relevant information about your child and decides if your child is eligible for accommodations and if so, which accommodations are appropriate.
If you would like interpretation services at the 504 meeting, please inform your school's 504 Coordinator.
Steps After Parent Submits 504 Accommodation Request, and Review Process
Who goes to the 504 accommodations meeting (504 Team meeting)?
The 504 Team meeting is attended by the parent, and people who know your child’s abilities. They understand the information that is being reviewed and know the types of accommodations that may meet your child’s needs.
The 504 meeting must also include at least one person in each category below who can:
- Talk about your child’s abilities and skills. (For example, your child’s teacher or guidance counselor may attend.)
- Interpret reports or evaluations. (For example, the school social worker or nurse may attend.)
- Share information about the accommodations that may meet your child’s needs. (For example, the 504 Coordinator)
Where health services are requested, the school nurse, or Office of School Health member (e.g., Borough Nursing Director, Nursing Supervisor, Diabetes Team Member, health care provider) must be a member of the 504 Team.
If you would like interpretation services at the 504 Team meeting, please inform your school's 504 Coordinator.
Diabetes: Interim Care Meeting
As soon as possible, and no later than 5 school days (unless additional time is necessary to accommodate a parent’s schedule) after DOE’s receipt of the Diabetes Medication Administration Form, the school will convene a meeting with the parent, a school administrator, the 504 Coordinator, school nurse, and if possible Office of School Health member (e.g., Borough Nursing Director, Nursing Supervisor, Diabetes Team Member, health care provider), to discuss the student’s needs between when the Diabetes MAF is complete and ready to implement and when a final 504 Plan is signed and implemented, such as staff training on hypo- and hyperglycemia, blood glucose monitoring, insulin administration, and accommodations such as access to food and water during the school day.
What Information is Reviewed at the Meeting?
The 504 team will review information which comes from different sources, such as your child’s tests, observations, work samples, report cards, and medical records. This will help the Team understand your child’s abilities, achievement, behaviors, and health needs. Parents and school staff may bring any information they believe best describes the child’s abilities and needs.
Diagnosis and Suggestions from Your Child’s Doctor
Your child’s doctor must complete the Medical Accommodations Request Form. The doctor may suggest that the school provide certain accommodations. The 504 Team will decide if the suggested accommodations are appropriate, and if so, how to provide them at school.
If your child is determined eligible for accommodations, the 504 Coordinator fills in the 504 Accommodation Plan Template (504 Plan) with 504 Team (including parent) input and based upon the relevant documentation described above. The 504 Plan is a roadmap that describes in detail the accommodations your child will receive in the least restrictive environment at school and, as relevant, in other DOE programs and activities.
No 504 Plan may be implemented without written parental consent, which is typically provided at the 504 Team meeting where the Plan is completed or soon thereafter.
If you would like translation of the 504 Plan and/or notices, please inform your school's 504 Coordinator.
How to Request Accommodations
To request 504 accommodations, complete the Request for Section 504 Accommodations Parent Form with HIPAA Authorization, have your child's health care provider fill out the Medical Accommodations Request Form, and submit both forms to your school’s 504 Coordinator.
How to Request Health Services
Health services are for students who need to take medicine (like insulin) or receive a special nursing treatment at school. Find out more, and relevant forms, on our Health Services page.
How to Apply for Health Services: Submit the relevant Medication Administration Form (MAF), and/or Medically Prescribed Treatment Form (for treatment other than medication) to the school nurse/medical professional in your child’s school building.
Review the Guidelines for Provision of Health Services and Section 504 Accommodations (see below) for more details on how to apply.
Not all students who need health services at school need a 504 Plan. If your child’s health service does not affect their ability to participate in school and other DOE programs and activities, then they do not need a 504 Plan and you do not need to submit the 504 accommodation request forms in addition to the MAF and/or Medically Prescribed Treatment Form. Contact your school’s 504 Coordinator for guidance.
- Example 1: A student stubbed their toe and visits the nurse’s office for treatment during the day. They do not need any other supports or accommodations. This student does not need any other supports or accommodations.
- This student does not need a 504 Plan.
- Example 2: During the school day, a student with diabetes must have their blood glucose levels monitored throughout the day, takes insulin at certain times, and needs bathroom breaks and access to glucagon and snacks to manage their diabetes care.
- This student does need 504 Plan
Educational and Other Accommodations
Educational accommodations are for students who need building, classroom or testing accommodations. For example, students some students may need a barrier-free building, assistive technology, special furniture, or breaks or extra time to complete activities or take tests.
Classroom accommodations are changes to the classroom setting to enable students with disabilities to participate in school. For example, students with disabilities that impact their hearing or vision might be seated close to the teacher or blackboard. Some students may receive: modifications to their class schedule, class setting, seating arrangement, and/or the method of receiving directions for class activities, and/or extra breaks or longer time for class activities.
Testing accommodations are changes to the way tests are given, or to testing format. Some students with disabilities may need these changes to be able to show their understanding of material. The testing accommodations are intended to remove barriers and increase access to the test, but do not change the skills or content that test measures.
Requests for testing accommodations should be made at the beginning of the school year or immediately upon discovery of a condition that would warrant such a request, and not immediately prior to testing (except in cases of emergency).
The four types of testing accommodations are:
- Method of Presentation
- Examples: Test directions or questions may be read, repeated, and explained by school staff. Tests may be also be given in braille.
- Method of Response
- Examples: Students may use assistive technology devices. Students may write answers directly in answer booklets, or type their answers using a computer.
- Test Timing
- Examples: Students may receive breaks or have more time to take tests.
- Test Setting
- Examples: Students may take tests in separate locations, in a small group, or with special lighting or furniture.
Paraprofessionals (paras) help students with physical and mental disabilities. Paras work with students to make sure their learning and health needs are met at school. Paras work in the classroom, under the general supervision of a certified teacher.
Can a Para Help My Child?
Paras can help your child if they require support with tasks due to their disability in order to access DOE programs and activities. Some examples of qualifying disabilities are asthma, diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, ADD/ADHD, and severe allergies. Under the guidance of the school nurse, a para can check for signs and symptoms of a specific condition, help students with disabilities eat and move, and help students get to the school nurse.
Your child may be eligible for student transportation to and from school by yellow bus or Metro Card if they are within a certain grade range, and a distance range from the school. Check the Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) eligibility webpage to see if your child is eligible for a yellow bus or Metro Card.
For requests for transportation accommodations (for example, limited travel time or paraprofessional support to provide one-to-one supervision on the school bus), complete the accommodation request forms described above (Request for Section 504 Accommodations Parent Form with HIPAA Authorization, have your child's health care provider fill out the Medical Accommodations Request Form), and submit both forms to your school’s 504 Coordinator. Requests based on a long-term medical condition that impacts the child’s ability to take public transportation are reviewed by the 504 Team.
If your child requires transportation as an exception to OPT’s eligibility rules because of a temporary medical condition or short- or long-term limited mobility, the parent must submit the Medical Exception Request forms to OPT instead of the request for accommodation forms described above.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can my child get Related Services with a 504 Plan?
Typically at the DOE, students who require related services receive them through an Individualized Education Program (IEP), and not a 504 Plan. Examples of related services are physical therapy, speech therapy, and mandated counseling services. If your child appears to need any of these services, generally the 504 Team will refer your child to the school-based IEP team or district Committee on Special Education.
Once my child is determined to be eligible, are they always eligible for accommodations?
The parent must submit the MAF and/or Medically Prescribed Treatment Form annually. New 504 request forms (Request for Section 504 Accommodations Parent Form with HIPAA Authorization and Medical Accommodations Request Form) are also required to request new or modified health services or other accommodations, but may not be needed to continue an existing accommodation.
504 Plans must be reviewed before the end of each school year or more often if necessary, and amended at the time of the review, if necessary.
If your child’s impairment continues to substantially limit their participation in school, your child will remain eligible for accommodations. The 504 Team will meet before the end of the school year, to the extent possible, to create a new Plan for the upcoming school year.
If it is decided that your child’s impairment no longer substantially limits their ability in a major life activity, your child is no longer eligible for accommodations (the 504 Plan is ended).
Schools will communicate with you about DOE Section 504 policies and procedures. All schools post and share the Notice of Non-Discrimination under Section 504 annually and upon request.
If you would like interpretation services at the 504 meeting, and/or translation of the 504 Plan and/or notices, please inform your school's 504 Coordinator.