Dyslexia and 504
Special education has focused on remediating areas of weakness. In doing this remediation, the goal has been getting the student to be average in their area of weakness. The mindset has been " average is what were working for", and this objective worked well when talking about remediation. However, this objective does not work when were talking about reasonable accommodations and "access to experiences that the person can profit from". If the student can profit from taking an advanced placement class in physics but they are denied access to that class because they have a reading disability, average has nothing to do with it. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/ hq5269.html) the goal is that the student will:"...attain educational benefits equal to that of non-handicapped students", it doesn't say anything about average.
It does demand equal opportunities by removing barriers, preventing discrimination because of the disability, and providing reasonable accommodations. It does say that students will have equal opportunities by having barriers removed, discrimination stopped, and reasonable accommodations provided.
Students with a reading disability may be bright and able to do average work in the classroom without reading the textbook, but this does not mean that they have an equal opportunity to attain educational benefits. If they have above average ability, they should have and equal opportunity to perform at the same above average skill level as other students who have above average ability. Instead of asking if our student is doing average work, we should be asking is our student doing the same level of work as other students with the same aptitude (as indicated by IQ scores and other data). These equal opportunities apply to a welding class, a standard science class, and advanced literature class, a chance to earn a scholarship with a high score on the ACT, or any other opportunity that a non-handicapped student has. It's not about having average skills, it's about having equal opportunities.