Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights law designed to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. Section 504 guarantees certain rights to individuals with disabilities, including the right to full participation and access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to all children regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Specifically, 34 C.F.R. 104 states:
"No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States...shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
Section 504 requires the provision of appropriate educational services; services that are designed to meet the individual needs of qualified students to the same extent that the needs of students without a disability are met. Essentially Section 504 was designed to "level the playing field," to ensure full participation by individuals with disabilities.