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Section 504 and Dyslexia Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Section 504 process?
The 504 process includes: child-find, identification, evaluation, committee decision-making, individualized service plan, and periodic reviews.
Schools are required to:
  • Implement the Response to Intervention process to determine student need;
  • Provide provisions for eligible students (evaluating, considering them for eligibility in the Section 504 committee process, developing individualized accommodation plans,
    implementing the plans, and providing periodic reviews);
  • Non-discrimination in non-academic and extracurricular programs and activities; and
  • Comply with Section 504 procedural requirements (notices, access to relevant records, opportunity for impartial due process hearings, and a review process)

Can a student be disabled but not qualify under Section 504?
Yes, since some disabled students may not be substantially limited in learning or another major life activity by their disability. If a student with disabilities is able to function adequately in the school setting, they may not be substantially limited, and thus, not eligible under Section 504.

Who is disabled under Section 504?
Any student who has (1) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits learning or another major life activity; (2) a record of such an impairment or; (3) is "regarded as" having such an impairment.

What is IDEA?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 20 U.S.C. §1400), is the federal special education statute. It applies only to about 14% of the student population, since it focuses on
students with more severe disabilities and needs. IDEA has stricter and more specific requirements than Section 504, which offers more general non-discrimination protections.

Why is there a need for two statutes addressing educational rights of students with disabilities?
IDEA is the funding statute that helps provide resources for the education of the more seriously disabled students. It focuses its resources fairly specifically to a subset of disabled persons.
Section 504, however, is a broader, unfunded, non-discrimination civil rights law emphasizing equal opportunity in any program receiving federal funding.

Why does Section 504 address non-educational issues such as nonacademic services and extracurricular activities?
Because of the non-discrimination nature of this law, this focuses on equality of opportunity. Congress wanted to ensure that students have an equal opportunity to participate in all school
programs, not just the educational ones.

How do I know if my child may have characteristics of dyslexia?
The following are the primary reading/writing/spelling characteristics of dyslexia:
    • difficulty reading words in isolation
    • difficulty accurately decoding unfamiliar words
    • difficulty with oral reading (slow, inaccurate, or labored)
    • difficulty spelling
      The reading/spelling characteristics are most often associated with the following:
    • segmenting, blending, and manipulating sounds in words (phonemic awareness)
    • learning the names of letters and their associated sounds
    • holding information about sounds and words in memory (phonological memory)
    • rapidly recalling the names of familiar objects, colors, or letters of the alphabet (rapid naming)
What do I do if I think my child may have dyslexia?
You should meet with your child's teacher to discuss his/her reading progress and any questions or concerns you have regarding their reading.

What criteria is the dyslexia program required to meet?
The state requires that each campus have a program for students identified with characteristics of dyslexia and/or related disorders. That program must be:
  • specialized to meet the student's needs,
  • multisensory, using visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic methodologies;
  • phonologically based;
  • meaning based;
  • systematic, sequential, and cumulative; and
  • process oriented.

What can I do to help my child?
As a parent, you can help your child by
  • understanding his/her dyslexia; reading books to learn more
  • praising your child's strengths and avoiding pressuring him/her in the area of reading/writing/
  • establishing routines at home
  • making certain your child understands your directions; having him/her read them back to you;
  • breaking large tasks into small ones, allowing your child to successfully complete each small task in order to successfully complete large ones;
  • making certain there is a place for your child to do his/her homework;
  • helping your child develop a plan for completing homework and other tasks;
  • seeking alternative assignment methods such as oral reports, tests and assignments, and provisions
    for recorded text, word processors, etc.;
  • working closely with your child's teacher; and
  • being patient with your child.

Whom do I contact if I have questions/concerns?
You should contact the Campus Dyslexia Coordinator at your child's school. This is usually the assistant principal or counselor. You can also contact the 504/Dyslexia Director at (210)-554-2570.