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Section 504 – Education and Accessibility

Children with Spina Bifida often can have learning disabilities.

The successful integration of a child with Spina Bifida into the school setting sometimes requires changes in the school’s equipment or curriculum. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires educational programs that receive federal funding to make their facilities accessible to children with physical disabilities. Spina Bifida, is a recognized disability that requires the accommodations and modifications set out in the Section 504 Plan, which ensures that all students have the same opportunities and conditions for learning and academic testing, with minimal disruption to the regular school schedule and minimal time away from the classroom.

This information sheets discusses how parents and educators can make accommodations to help children with Spina Bifida receive equal treatment and encouragement, and offers suggestions to improve potentially challenging elements of learning, such as:

  • Difficulty paying attention.
  • Understanding or being able to explain assignments.
  • Challenges with handwriting.
  • Difficulty remembering things they see or hear.
  • Frustration that stems from struggles with organizing and planning.

Additionally, it features considerations that parents and educators must keep in mind:

  • When students have a shunt, educators must watch for symptoms of shunt malfunction and notify the parents immediately if they detect sudden changes in intellect or behavior.
  • Parents must also be notified immediately if there is any injury, bowel/bladder related accident, or if the student refuses to eat or participate in the educational process.
  • Children with Spina Bifida can be allergic to latex, a life-threatening substance contained in common schools items.
  • Physical education instructors and sports coaches must be able to assist and accommodate students with Spina Bifida so that they may participate in physical activities.
  • Student with Spina Bifida must be permitted to have immediate and unrestricted access to the bathroom or a private location to perform intermittent catheterization.
  • Students must have permission to participate in all field trips and extra-curricular activities without restriction.
  • Students should have allowances for Spina Bifida-related needs during tests and classwork.
  • During emergency evacuation or shelter-in-place situations, students must get the same  care, and with the same urgency, as their classmates.

The information sheet features a form for parents to fill in their emergency contact information and related instructions.

This information does not constitute medical advice for any individual. As special cases may vary from the general information presented here, SBA advises readers to consult a qualified medical or other professional on an individual basis.

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