ADA and 504 Accommodations
In addition to the provisions of IDEA discussed in the previous chapter, your child may also be entitled to accommodations or classroom modifications under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. These laws protect your child from discrimination on the basis of her learning disability. This may be a good alternative if your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia but has difficulty qualifying for services because she is not “behind enough” and does not seem to need tutoring or special education in order to keep up in class. Even if your child does qualify for services, you might also prefer the ADA/504 protections if you do not agree with the educational plan and goals specified by the IEP, but still want to obtain modifications for your child.
Some common 504 accommodations are: extended time on tests or assignments, peer assistance with note-taking, extra set of textbooks for home use, computer-aided instruction, enlarged print, rearranging class schedules, preferred seating assignments, oral testing, or use of a tape recorder in lieu of taking notes.
The difference between protections under the ADA/504 and the IDEA is that your child does not have to demonstrate a need for special education services in order to receive ADA/504 accommodations. On the other hand, with ADA/504, he will not have an IEP or be given specialized tutoring or educational services. What your child can get via the antidiscrimination laws is the right to use assistive devices, such as a calculator or keyboard, or modifications such as extended time on exams or an exam reader. Of course, you need to be able to show that your child needs these services to overcome his specific disability-related limitations; however, usually the diagnosis of dyslexia will suffice.
Although your child is legally entitled to “reasonable” accommodations, the law does not specify what is reasonable. This is something that may be determined by the school in accordance with its practices in similar cases, or it may be developed over time through trial and error.