SECTION 504 OF THE REHABILITATION ACT OF 1973
If no learning disabilities are found, the evaluation of a child with Barth syndrome (BTHS) will certainly identify the physical limitations that he lives with. Under these conditions, a student will likely be eligible for protection as other health impaired under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (504). A student has a 504 disability if he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as learning, walking, writing, reading, performing manual tasks, etc. The physical and neurodevelopmental issues discussed in Section II of this handbook make clear that a student with BTHS is likely to be limited in his ability to perform at least one of these major life activities.
With 504 protection, a student in a public school will have a “504 plan” that clarifies his impairments as well as the necessary and appropriate accommodations put in place to assure the student has access to the same public education as his classmates. Some of the kinds of 504 plan accommodations that a school might make for a student with BTHS include (but are certainly not limited to) the following:
- Making the school accessible to a wheelchair
- Modifying physical education requirements
- Making technology available for a student to do his writing and other assignments computer
- Providing physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy
The public school is responsible to make these accommodations free of charge to the parents, but it should be noted again that while Section 504 applies to public schools, it generally does not apply to private schools.
It should be noted that if a student has only a 504 plan and not an Individualized Education Plan (discussed below), the school has the responsibility only to assure that the student with BTHS have the same access as his classmates have to an education. Ultimately, the school has many fewer responsibilities to follow special procedures and make special arrangements for students with 504 plans than they have for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP).
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