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News Update

U.S. Dept. of Education seeks public input on updating disability rights law

In order to modernize a 45-year-old law that protects students with disabilities, the U.S. Department of Education is asking the public for their ideas for how to improve the landmark legislation.

This will be the first major update to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the law behind “504 plans” that require schools to accommodate students with disabilities. The department’s Office of Civil Rights is overseeing the updates.

Members of the public can send an email to Section504@ed.gov.

“While the world has undergone enormous changes since 1977, the Department’s Section 504 regulations have remained, with few exceptions, unaltered,” Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said. “As we observe the 45th anniversary of these important regulations this month, it is time to start the process of updating them. Just as in 1977, the voices of people with disabilities must be heard and incorporated as we engage in that work.”

The updates are part of President Biden’s broader push to improve mental health services generally, as rates of depression, anxiety and other conditions have soared — especially among young people — since the pandemic began in March 2020.

–Carolyn Jones