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Access and Advocacy : The Ins and Outs of a 504 Plan

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I have had a 504 Plan since I was very young and in the first years of my education. Although it has changed over the years for many reasons, it has always been a support for myself and my learning experience. I am hard of hearing, and have many accommodations that help me navigate school life, like preferential seating (I can choose a seat closer to the board or teacher if needed), as well as a set of the class notes if needed. I also wear bilateral hearing aids everyday that help make hearing and understanding my teachers and peers much easier. In addition, I also have accommodations that cater to helping my anxiety and developmental delay, one of them being extra time on tests or quizzes. 

Stated in both Section 504 and the IDEA Act, these laws provide learning plans and special education for students with disabilities. Although 504 Plans and IEPs differ in the amount of attention given to the student, they both must be followed by any instructor. If not, they could be subject to losing their teaching license. 

Although I have had overall good experiences with my teachers and administrators in the past in listening to these accommodations, I have noticed that sometimes teachers are overlooking accommodations that might help a student feel fully supported in the classroom.

After asking a student with a 504 plan how their experience has been, their experiences were similar to ones I had experienced in the past: “It has been a lot of personal advocating for myself. Not all teachers have access to my 504, as it usually gets lost in their emails. I have had to ask my teachers multiple times to make sure they are following it, and that is annoying.” 

As students grow up, the need for close watch and routine check-ins and meetings becomes less of a necessity. Obviously this is very different for every student, as many factors play into why they may need these plans to begin with, but why has the attention suddenly become something that has to be asked for by the student themselves? 

There could be a reason. Even though there should be more attention on older students than they are getting, it might not exactly be the fault of the teachers. Previously mentioned by the student, teachers say that a lot of the important plans and information about students gets lost in their emails, which are often stuffed with thousands of emails in their Inbox. They also say that finding things in the new attendance system is not easy, and even if it was, accommodation plans are not included in them. 

When it comes down to it, every single case is different. Some kids need more attention, while some kids need less, and there is no in between. All in all, more support should be given. Some students’ accommodations can be overlooked, and if you are that person, self-advocacy is the only way you can get your needs shared.  While it might be hard at first, remember that most teachers want to help support their students, and in the long run, self-advocacy a priceless life skill. 

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About the Contributor
Sarah Jeffers, Social Media Manager

Hello! I am part of the Class of '25 and I am so excited to be managing the social medias this year! I have always loved to keep my friends and family up to date on things (even if they haven’t wanted to hear it). I have also found a love for reading about what is happening all around us. I hope to be able to bring the stories and life of South High and beyond to an accessible outlet!

Email Me!

student.142045@worcesterschools.net

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