“Below is a discussion of what it means to be a student or individual with a disability, and of related terms that help to comprehensively define disability as it is used in Section 504 and its implementing regulations.

“Disability. Under Section 504, an individual with a disability (also referred to as a student with a disability in the elementary and secondary education context) is defined as a person who: (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity; (2) has a record of such an impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.7

“The determination of whether a student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity (and therefore has a disability) must be made on a case by case basis.8 In addition, when determining if someone meets the definition of a disability, the definition must be understood to provide broad coverage of individuals.9

“Physical or mental impairments. Section 504 defines a physical or mental impairment as any

  • physiological disorder or condition,
  • cosmetic disfigurement, or
  • anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine.10

“The Section 504 definition of physical and mental impairment also includes any mental or psychological disorder.11The definition does not include all specific diseases and conditions that may be physical or mental impairments because of the difficulty of ensuring the completeness of such a list.” ~OCR