“To summarize, major life activities include certain acts a person does (such as hearing, speaking, lifting) and a person’s bodily functions (such as lung disease that affects a person’s respiratory system, or a traumatic brain injury that affects the function of the brain).

“The list of major life activities under Section 504 includes, but is not limited to, the activities listed below.12

• caring for oneself • bending
• performing manual tasks • speaking
• seeing • breathing
• hearing • learning
• eating • reading
• sleeping • concentrating
• walking • thinking
• standing • communicating
• lifting • working

“Major bodily functions are also major life activities under the law, and these major bodily functions include functions of the bowel, bladder, and brain; normal cell growth; and the immune, endocrine (for example, thyroid, pituitary, and pancreas), respiratory, reproductive, circulatory, digestive, and neurological systems.13

“These lists, however, do not provide every possible major life activity or bodily function; therefore, if an activity or bodily function is not listed in the Amendments Act, it might still be considered a major life activity under Section 504.14

“For example, if a school provides a form with a list of major life activities to consider during an evaluation process, a student may still have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity even if the activity is not listed on the school’s form.

“School staff should note, in particular, that a student may have a disability and be eligible for Section 504 services even if his or her disability does not limit the major life activity of learning.

“Therefore, rather than considering only how an impairment affects a student’s ability to learn, school staff must also consider how the impairment affects any major life activity of the student and, if necessary, assess what is needed to ensure that students have an equal opportunity to participate in the school’s programs.15

“For example: (1) a student with a visual impairment who cannot read regular print with glasses is substantially limited in the major life activity of seeing; (2) a student with an orthopedic impairment who cannot walk is substantially limited in the major life activity of walking; and

“(3) a student with diabetes who requires insulin injections is substantially limited in the operation of a major bodily function, the endocrine system. These students would have to be evaluated, as described in the Section 504 regulations, to determine whether they need special education and/or related services.16

“School staff should note that a student may have a disability and be eligible for Section 504 services, including modifications, even if the student earns good grades.

“This is because the student’s impairment may substantially limit a major life activity regardless of whether the student performs well academically, and the student may need special education or related aids and services because of this disability.17

“For example, a student who has dyslexia and is substantially limited in reading finds it challenging to read the required class material in a timely manner. Alternatively, a student who has been diagnosed with depression may be substantially limited in her ability to concentrate while completing school assignments. In both of these cases, the student spends far more time preparing for class than other students and earns good grades because of the student’s intelligence and extreme efforts. The student would still be substantially limited in the major life activity of reading despite earning good grades and may require a multi -sensory approach to learning, and additional time to complete in-class tests or quizzes, even if that student earns mostly A’s.” ~OCR