Prong Three: Regarded As Impaired

Finally, individuals who are regarded as having a physical or mental impairment when in fact such impairment may or may not actually exist are protected from discrimination under Section 504.

A person with a history of a mental or physical impairment because of misclassification is entitled to protection against discrimination under Section 504. For example, a limited English proficient student mistakenly determined to be eligible for a special program for students who have intellectual disabilities could have been illegally “regarded as” being disabled; or a student with epilepsy might be treated as having an impairment that limits physical activities such as participation on the basketball team when the student actually has no limitation that would affect participation in sports at all.

Others might treat a person with HIV as if a physical impairment existed based simply on the medical condition. Unlike individuals with a current disability, students with a record of a disability or who are regarded as having a disability are not eligible for services and/or accommodations not afforded to the general population, because they do not currently need such services. However, such individuals are protected against discriminatory action based on the recorded or perceived disability.

Students described in Prong Three are protected from discrimination under Section 504, even though they are not individuals with a current disability under Section 504 (i.e., Prong One). However, they would not need an accommodation plan because they do not have a current disability and a need for such a plan.

Next: Click to proceed to Table: Prongs and Corresponding Protections.