TABLE 1

Supports From IDEA Law Versus Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act) Versus the ADA

Federal LawIDEASection 504 (Rehabilitation Act)ADA
Law enacted since197519731990
UsefulnessRequires educational programs for children with disability that are in addition to those without disability. Provides funding only if the condition of an FAPE is provided.Makes discrimination against people with disabilities illegal when federal financial assistance is involved (including schools).Makes illegal discrimination against people with disabilities, not tied to funding type
Children receive special education and related services under this law.Children can receive “regular” education with related aids and services or special education to satisfy this law. Under the regulations, they are entitled to an FAPE in the LRE just as under IDEA.
Eligibility of a child/teen with a disabilityCategorical; also, child must require special education and related services:Functional: A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits ≥1 of the major life activities of such individual.Functional: A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits ≥1 of the major life activities of such individual.
Intellectual disability; hearing impairments (including deafness); speech or language impairments; visual impairments (including blindness); emotional disturbance; orthopedic impairments; autism; traumatic brain injury; specific learning disabilities; other health impairments
The ADA Amendments Act specifically lists examples of major life activities including caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. The act also states that a major life activity includes the operation of a major bodily function. This also covers section 504.The ADA Amendments Act specifically lists examples of major life activities including caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. The act also states that a major life activity includes the operation of a major bodily function.
All children covered by IDEA are covered by section 504, but some children covered by Section 504 are not covered by IDEAAll children covered by IDEA are covered but some children covered by the ADA are not covered by IDEA.
Examples of disabilities covered (and not always covered by IDEA) include ADHD, diabetes, and asthma. In some circumstances, these may be covered under “Other Health Impairments” in IDEA.Examples of disabilities covered (and not always covered by IDEA) include ADHD, diabetes, and asthma. In some circumstances, these may be covered under “Other Health Impairments” in IDEA.
Age group coveredIDEA part B—generally 3 to 21 y of ageAll ages (so includes schools, colleges, and universities). The regulations require FAPE in LRE for school-aged children, but reasonable accommodations for younger or older children, or in nonpublic school settings such as child care or college.All ages (so includes schools, colleges, and universities)
IDEA part C—EI–infants and toddlers
Name used for plan for childIFSP; ages birth to 3 y of ageSection 504 plan or “504 plan” (note: an IEP under IDEA law can satisfy dection 504 requirements)
IEP; ages 3 y and above
Reference20USC §1400 et seqa Pub L 94-142b with most recent amendment Pub L 108-446c29USC §794d42USC §12101 et seqe with most recent amendment 110-325f
  • Not all children in need of supports in school qualify under IDEA law. Other laws, such as section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA, can help determine supports necessary to a child with a medical condition in school. The table illustrates some of the differences between IDEA (requiring IEP development), section 504, and the ADA. ADHD, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

  • a 20 USC §1400, Title 20 - Education, Education of Children with Disabilities, Subchapter I - Definitions, section 1400 - Short title; findings; purposes (2011).

  • b Education of All Handicapped Children Act. Pub L No. 94-142 (1975).

  • c Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. Pub L No. 108-446 (2004).

  • d 29 USC §794, Title 29 - Labor, Chapter 16 - Vocational Rehabilitation and Other Rehabilitation Services, Subchapter V - Rights And Advocacy, section 794 - Nondiscrimination under federal grants and programs (2011).

  • e 42 USC §12101, Title 42 - The Public Health and Welfare, Chapter 126 - Equal Opportunity for Individuals with Disabilities, section 12101 - Findings and purpose (1990).

  • f ADA Amendments Acts of 2008. Pub L No. 110-325 (2008).