Related Services in Schools

Fact sheet


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 requires schools provide related services to a student with a disability who needs them in order to benefit from the special education being offered. The following is a list of related services that may help your child, but remember:

  1.  Not every service must be provided for every student. The student must need the service in order to benefit from his or her education program.
  2.  Not every service a student may need is listed. Other services can be provided if they are required to assist the student with a disability to benefit from his or her education. (The “I” in IEP is for individualized.)

The students Individualized Education Program (IEP) team will determine what related services a student needs in order for the student to benefit from his/her educational program. Any needed related services should be addressed in the student’s IEP, including where the services will be offered, for how long, and how often the student will receive services. Services are to be provided at no cost to the parent.

The following are examples of related services:

Audiology services are used to identify children with hearing loss and to create programs and activities to help these children and their families adjust to the child’s hearing loss.

Counseling services are services provided by qualified social workers, psychologists, guidance counselors, and other qualified personnel.

Early identification to develop and apply a plan to address a child’s disability as early as possible.

Interpreting services are for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, and can include: oral transliteration services, cued language transliteration services, sign language transliteration and interpreting services, and transcription services, such as communication access real-time translation (CART), C-Print, and TypeWell. For students who are deaf-blind, it can include social interpreting services.

Medical services are provided by a licensed physician to determine the medical reasons for a child’s disability during evaluations for special education and related services. Otherwise schools are not required to provide medical services.

Occupational therapy is provided by a qualified occupational therapist. Services can include: improving, restoring, or developing functions that are impaired or were lost due to injury, illness, or deprivation; improving independent functioning to perform task; and using early intervention to prevent initial or further impairments or loss of function.

Orientation and mobility services provided to students who are blind or have a visual disability to learn orientation and safe movement within their environments, such as school, home and the community.

One-to-one assistance can include an aide for assistance with personal needs or for behavioral interventions.

Parent counseling & training is provided to assist parents in understanding the special needs of their children and providing parents with information about child development. This can also include services to help parents learn skills to help support implementing their child’s IEP.

Physical therapy is provided by a qualified physical therapist to treat disease and injury by mechanical means, such as exercise, heat light, and massage.

Psychological services are used to find and explain information about child behavior and conditions based on the results of psychological and educational tests.

Recreation includes educational and therapeutic programs provided by schools, community agencies, and other groups.

Rehabilitation counseling services are services provided by qualified personnel in individual or group sessions that focus specifically on: career development, employment preparation, achieving independence, mixing in the workplace and community; and services from either the Commission for the Blind or the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.

School health services and school nurse services are services to address a student’s health needs. School nurse services need to be performed by a qualified nurse. School health services can be provided by a qualified nurse or other qualified person.

Social work services are services provided to the child and the child’s family to help a family cope with problems in the child’s living situation that negatively affect the child’s ability to benefit from educational services.

Speech-language pathology services are provided to identify, diagnose, and treat children with speech or language problems.

Transportation includes travel to/from school and travel in/around school buildings and school field trips. This can also address any need for special equipment, such as special buses, lifts, and ramps.

Note: IDEA also requires schools provide a student with assistive technology (AT) devices and services if they will help the student improve functional capabilities. AT can include computers tablets, software/apps, and communication devices, (AT does not include surgically implanted devices).

An IEP can allow a student to take his or her AT device home from school if it is needed for educational purposes. This could be a computer to do homework.

Related Services Under Section 504

Section 504 says that related services are a part of an appropriate education. Unfortunately, Section 504 does not list specific types or categories of related services. However (similar to IDEA 2004) it does state that related services should be provided at no cost to the student with a disability or the student’s parents. In addition, the education and related services for a child with a disability should be designed to meet that child’s individual educational needs as adequately as the services meet the needs of a child without a disability.

Advocacy Tips

Be prepared to ask your child’s doctor or counselor what related services your child needs and get a written note stating why the related serviced is needed at school.

Be ready to tell the IEP (Individualized Education Program) team or section 504 committee what related services you think your child needs.

Be ready to give a copy of the written note from your child’s doctor or counselor to the IEP team or Section 504 committee

Be ready to tell the IEP team or section 504 committee how the related service you want will improve your child’s ability to benefit from his or her education program and receive an appropriate education.

Be sure that specific timelines for providing related services are written into the IEP or section 504 Plan.


Sources for the information in this fact sheet:

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004, 20 USC §1401 (1), (2) and (26)
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 1997 and 34 CRF Part 300.24
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and 34 CFR 104.33(b)
South Carolina Department of Education Regulation R 43-243 (B)(26)


This publication provides legal information, but is not intended to be legal advice. As the law may change, please contact Disability Rights South Carolina for updates. Please let us know if you would like this information in an alternative format.

The Protection and Advocacy System for South Carolina. This publication was made possible by funding, in part, by SAMHSA. These contents are solely the responsibility of the grantee and do not necessarily represent the official views of SAMHSA. 

Last updated: 2020