Students with disabilities attending public schools in Washington State have a right to an education. They also have a right to learn among their peers. There several laws which protect these rights – the focus of the post is just one. The Rehabilitation Act’s Section 504 requires public schools to provide accommodations so all students may participate in their schools’ activities.
Students are entitled to a “free and appropriate education” under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Other laws, including Section 504 and laws prohibiting discrimination protected related rights for students with disabilities. This includes participation in a school’s sports or extracurricular activities. Disabled students must also do so without facing discrimination. Denying a qualified student from an athletic team because of an impairment violates the federal Rehabilitation Act. The law also protects disabled students from bullying.
Schools must provide accommodations for disabled students
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act requires educators to provide their disabled students with reasonable accommodations when needed. Accommodations may include aids or services to help them participate in the school’s activities. The University of Washington website lists some common accommodations. One or more of these accommodations could allow a disabled student to maintain his or her involvement in a school’s curriculum. Teachers may, for example, include books with large print or other visual aids.
Installing text-to-speech software on classroom computers could help students with disabilities. In some cases, sign language may reflect an appropriate accommodation. Instructors could also modify their disabled students’ homework assignments. Students with cognitive impairments may then take extra time to work through the material.
Parents of disabled students may take action if needed
The National Education Association notes that procedures exist to protect students from exclusion. Students with disabilities requiring special facilitation may receive them without harassment or discrimination. In some cases, an educator or school district could fail to provide a reasonable accommodation. Parents of disabled students may, however, take action to resolve disputes.