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Your Legal Rights

Individuals with disabilities are entitled to certain rights and accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which is a federal civil rights statute.

Does the ADA apply to people with chronic pain?The ADA does not name specific medical conditions.  Instead, it defines an individual with a disability this way:

  • A person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activites.
  • A person who has a record of having such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

A person living with pain may satisfy this definition of disability.  For example, school - and all of the tasks and responsibilities that go along with it - counts as a "major life activity."  Your pain may limit the way you get through the school day so you could be entitled to accommodations.


Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that a child with a disability has equal access to an education.


A 504 PLAN is a formal document between you and your school outlining the accomodations or modifications your school district must make to remove "obstacles" in your education.


Think about ways your pain might present obstacles to learning:

     You live with pain that's aggravated by a heavy backpack - but you need to bring home lots of textbooks to complete the homework assignments.

     The school must provide you with a second set of textbooks to keep at home


Managing your pain requires frequent trips to the rest room - but your teacher has a policy limiting the number of times students can leave the classroom.

Your 504 Plan states that no teacher can deny you the right to use the rest room as often as you need to.

Learn more about it and ask your parents and your health care team to work with school administrators to create a 504 Plan.

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