Other Disability-Related Legislation

There are other federal and state laws that, like Section 504, were enacted to protect students with disabilities from discrimination and establish guidelines for the provision of services designed to meet the needs of students with disabilities. The table below summarizes the legal citations and references for the major federal and state laws that set forth the obligations of school districts and postsecondary institutions in serving the needs of students with disabilities.



Federal Laws

State Law

Section 504


IDEA 2004


Current Law

PL 93-516

PL 101-336

PL 108-446

s. 1000.05, F.S.

Legal Citations

29 U.S.C.
Chapter 794

42 U.S.C. Chapter 12131

20 U.S.C. Chapter 33, 1400ed.seq


Implementing Regulations

34 CFR Part 104

28 CFR Part 35

34 CFR Part 300 & 301 (August 2006)

Chapter 6A-19 F.A.C.

Because the lines of demarcation between these laws and Section 504 are not always evident, it is important to understand the interdependence and uniqueness of each when serving students with disabilities. A brief summary of the other major laws impacting students with disabilities follows.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was initially enacted in 1975 as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142). IDEA requires public schools to provide a FAPE (i.e., specially designed instruction and related services designed to meet unique needs) to all eligible children with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. FAPE is documented on an individual educational plan (IEP) designed to meet the unique needs of each student with a disability. IDEA was most recently reauthorized in 2004 as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004). IDEA 2004 moved the emphasis from educational access to improved educational outcomes for students with disabilities.

In contrast to the other disability laws summarized in this module, IDEA is an entitlement that provides federal financial assistance to states and districts for the provision of special education and related services to qualifying students. The United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs and the Florida Department of Education (FDOE), K–12 Schools, Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services provide compliance oversight for IDEA in Florida.

In many ways, the requirements of IDEA and Section 504 are similar. Both focus on children, require a FAPE, are documented in a plan (IEP for IDEA or 504 plan for Section 504), and provide procedural safeguards. However, IDEA is an entitlement that has different standards for evaluation, eligibility, and services. IDEA offers a higher level of protection while Section 504 offers broader coverage. Technically, any student who qualifies for an IEP is protected under Section 504 but does not need a separate 504 plan as the provision of an IEP is one way to meet the requirements of Section 504 (34 CFR §104.33(b)(2).

Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities and extends this prohibition to the full range of state and local government services, programs, or activities regardless of whether they receive federal assistance. The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) revised the ADA to broaden the definition of “disability” to allow for broader coverage, expand the list of major life activities to include major bodily functions, lower the standard for a “substantial limitation,” and introduced a new mitigating measures rule. The changes made to ADAAA apply to public school students under Section 504 and significantly change Section 504 eligibility determinations.

The OCR is responsible for resolving complaints alleging noncompliance with the ADA. OCR has provided guidance on the impact of the ADAAA on public schools in the Q&A document Questions and Answers on the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 for Students with Disabilities Attending Public Elementary and Secondary Schools.

Florida Educational Equity Act

The Florida Educational Equity Act (FEEA) mirrors many of the protections provided in Section 504 and ADA. FEEA prohibits discrimination against students and employees in the K–20 public education system on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status. It specifies that no person shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any K–20 public education program or activity (section 1000.05, Florida Statutes (F.S.)). The definition of disability is the same as defined in Section 504 and ADA. The implementing rules for this statute are found in Chapter 6A-19, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.).

FDOE’s Office of Equal Educational Opportunity provides compliance monitoring and technical assistance for FEEA.

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