After going largely untouched for decades, the U.S. Department of Education is planning to propose new rules this summer for one of the main laws affecting students with disabilities.

The agency said it will issue a proposal in August to amend the regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The law prohibits disability discrimination at schools and in other programs that receive federal funding.

In particular, Section 504 mandates that students with disabilities be provided a free appropriate public education and various types of accommodations.

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Many young people qualify for services under both the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504, though more than 1.38 million students were covered by Section 504 alone as of the 2017-2018 school year, federal civil rights data shows.

The Education Department said that its rules related to Section 504 have seen little modification since 1977 and that the forthcoming proposal will reflect the priorities of the Biden-Harris administration.

A notice published in the Education Department’s unified agenda indicates that the proposed rule is expected to better align the regulations with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other civil rights laws protecting this population, update outdated language and address “persistent barriers to access for students with disabilities.”

The Education Department first signaled its intent to update Section 504 regulations last year when it sought public comment on what types of revisions should be considered and indicated that it would hold listening sessions on the topic. Feedback from those outreach efforts has been incorporated into the upcoming proposal, the agency said in a recent report.

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