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Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago: LIFE Center

Guide for Parents: Educational Accommodation - Descriptions and comparison of Section 504 and IDEA (IEP)

Reviewed August 2014
Author: Kristine C. Cichowski , MS
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
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Author: Jamee R. Heelan , OTR/L
Education Program Manager
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago LIFE Center
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Author: Elizabeth Wojciechowski , PhD, RN
Education Program Manager
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago LIFE Center
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By law, children with disabilities are entitled to appropriate accommodations and modifications to assist in achieving and maintaining educational success. To identify appropriate support for your child begin by contacting your school and requesting a meeting with the Special Education Director.

Providing a written request to discuss your child’s needs ensures a way to document and track this process. Legally the school has 10 days to respond to all written requests.

During your initial meeting, the school identifies needs based upon various domains including, hearing, visual, social-emotional functioning, academic, general intelligence, communication and motor skills. Based upon these need, appropriate team members are identified to evaluate the child within 60 days. The 60-day window includes meeting to discuss the results of the evaluations with the parent and determining whether or not a 504 plan and/or Individual Education Plan (IEP) is required for your child.

504 plans are primarily related to addressing medical needs and accommodations while IEPs respond to specific learning needs and/or impairments that impact your child’s performance in the classroom. Both are written documents that are open for revisions throughout the school year and involve meeting with the education team on an annual basis. The IEP specifically requires goals and accommodations needed to facilitate successful learning. The 504 plan does not require goals, though is documented, tracked and reviewed.

The resources below provide detailed descriptions of the 504 Plan and Individual Education Plan (IEP). Click on the links below to become informed and prepared to work with your child’s education team in creating an optimal learning experience.

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