What are some 504 Plan Texas considerations and solutions? All 50 states must comply with 504 plan requirements and accommodations.
504 plan, as I said, is codified in federal statutes, specifically the Rehabilitation Act section 504. In the federal statute, it’s written out what’s required of a student to be eligible for a 504 plan. And it’s simply any student with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits any major life activities, and then they would qualify for 504 plan accommodations.
The essential thing to remember about this is that a student can have a mental or physical impairment. So, let’s talk about what that looks like. A cognitive impairment might be anxiety, depression, ODD, ADHD, or ADD. Mayo Clinic says these conditions can significantly impact a child’s daily life and educational experience.
Section 504 does not limit what type of diagnosis is covered or what kind of disability. Physical disabilities could be deaf, TBI, maybe a child is in a wheelchair, cannot walk, or has mobility restrictions. Again, if you have an accident and there are injuries, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) suggest that the 504 accommodations could be short-term.
If this is a condition of birth or something that’s deteriorated over time, the 504 plan can follow the student through their secondary education. And even at the university level, accommodations can be made too. Sometimes they’re not called a 504 plan, but accommodations can be granted. If a parent or guardian notices that a student has an impairment, a simple solution would be to have that student checked out by a healthcare provider.
The parent or guardian would suggest constructing the 504 plan if a mental or physical impairment is diagnosed. The 504 plan team would meet, look at that diagnosis, and then look at the data within the school and see if that child had a substantial impairment. Then, if they do have a finding of that, the 504 plan is constructed.
Let’s talk about some simple solutions. The 504 plan is going to be accommodations.
These things can help or be adjusted for the student within the school confines to give them the best outcome so they are no longer impaired within the school environment. So, things to remember for simple solutions is that you want to think not just inside the classroom but outside the classroom, too. So, the transition between classes in the hallway, extracurricular activities, cafeteria, and transportation.
Suppose a child is having difficulty transitioning into the school day. In that case, they may need to be picked up by a school bus where aid is available to help them transition into the classroom, as opposed to just the regular school bus, which may be distracting or can cause anxiety or some impairment. So, that’s a simple solution, transportation. Simple solutions for transitioning during the school day. Does the child need aid? Do they need prompts?
It is another one that gets overlooked. This student may need help adjusting quickly as typical students. The teacher may indicate to the class or specifically to that student that the class will be transitioning to a different subject within five minutes, 15 minutes, or two minutes. They’ll be leaving the classroom for physical education or potentially going out to recess, and they’re prompted during these transition times.
The other thing to remember too is the cafeteria. If that child is having a hard time, and I have seen from experience, it could be a sensory overload, smells, noise, and visuals. It can be a lot for a student with some mental impairment. What type of simple accommodations could the school provide? One, the student is prompted. You’re letting the students know they’re preparing themselves or entering this overstimulated environment.
That environment isn’t the best for this student to eat lunch, so they get to go to a different area or have more time to eat. Those are all simple solutions for a student with an impairment in the cafeteria. It can cover extracurricular activities as well. If there are sports or clubs, the student can also receive accommodations.
Next, we can discuss classroom accommodations and some simple solutions. The most popular ones are exams or tests. Students who have anxiety or maybe ADHD or ADD have a difficult time concentrating and focusing on taking exams. Simple accommodations mean the student gets double or triple the time as the other students. But it’s important to know what’s triggering that anxiety or that loss of focus. Is it the time frame? So they need more time. Is it the environment? There are just too many kids, and there’s too much stimulation.
So, simple accommodation might be that they leave the classroom and go to a quiet place to take the exam. It could be just reading the exam itself. The student might not have a reading disability, but they have anxiety around reading. So, then the test would get read to them, or staff would be available to read any words the student may have anxiety about. These are all simple accommodations. And all the accommodations on the 504 plan should be straightforward.
As a parent advocating for these accommodations, you must remember that there are substitutes, multiple staff and aids, specialists, teachers, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers. All those individuals need to be able to read the 504 plan accommodation, understand it, and be able to implement it. If there are things written on the accommodations that say extra time for exams, if you have a substitute teacher in, they will not know how much time that student can sit there all day long and work on that test.
Maybe they can’t, but that’s not very common. So again, simple accommodations, but you want it to be detailed enough that if anybody looks at that 504 plan, they will know how to implement it. It will help everybody in the classroom, mainly the student, so they don’t feel singled out or discriminated against. So again, please keep it simple, but also detailed enough so that anybody looking at that accommodation can know.
Jennifer Hanson is a dedicated and seasoned writer specializing in the field of special education. With a passion for advocating for the rights and needs of children with diverse learning abilities, Jennifer uses her pen to educate, inspire, and empower both educators and parents alike.