The definition of “handicapped” person can be found in 34 CFR § 104.3 (j). It states, Handicapped persons means any person who (i) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, (ii) has a record of such an impairment, or (iii) is regarded as having such an impairment.” While we don’t use the term “handicapped” anymore, the definition is applicable to “a person with a disability” under Section 504.
Most discussion regarding Section 504 in schools focus on students covered under bullet (i), or “prong 1”. These students are considered “currently” disabled. The Office of Civil Rights has clarified that it is rare for school-age students to be covered by the second and third prong of “record of” and “regarded as” respectively, and that these prongs may not be the basis for Section 504 services and accommodations (FAPE). However, these students are protected by the non-discrimination provisions of Section 504. A student who “has a record” is a student who in the past may have been identified with a disability under either Section 504 or IDEA, but is not currently considered as a disabled individual.
A student who had bone cancer as a young child, but no longer has cancer, is an example of a person who has a record of such an impairment, but is no longer considered a person with a disability.
A student who is regarded as having a disability is one who was never disabled but is perceived by others as having a disability. An example would be a student who has a family member with an impairment such as tuberculosis, and it is assumed that this student does too. Any discriminatory action, for instance, not allowing the student who previously had bone cancer try out for the football team, or not allowing the student with a family member with tuberculosis from participating in choir due to the fear of spreading germs, is not allowed.