Your special needs child faces various challenges in life, and as a parent, you want to make sure they have the resources to embrace these challenges. Your child deserves the same educational opportunities as every other child, and you may have a right to ask for an educational accommodation.
According to The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, public schools must offer accommodations to eligible students with disabilities. The purpose of this law is to ensure that special needs students have access to the same offerings of the New York City Department of Education as other students.
Your child must qualify as an eligible student to receive an educational accommodation. This means, in the terms of the law, they must have a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.”
Physical or mental impairments
A physical or mental impairment does not have to be permanent or always present. It can be something short-term, such as a broken bone or illness, or something that only happens occasionally, such as a seizure.
In cases of occasional impairments, the impairment must substantially limit a major life activity when it is active. Using the example above, if your child is having a seizure, their life activity is substantially limited in those moments.
Major life activities
There are many things that qualify as major life activities. Basic daily functions such as breathing, seeing, sleeping, hearing, walking and talking are major life activities.
Reading and learning are also considered major life activities, so if your child’s special needs prevent them from learning at the same pace as other students, they may qualify for an educational accommodation.
Additionally, the abilities to communicate or focus are deemed major life activities. Children who have trouble properly communicating or focusing on schoolwork could receive an accommodation.
Receiving an educational accommodation requires various steps and documentation. The process can be complex and overwhelming, and having guidance and advice along the way is important.