Disability Law

Information for Students with Disabilities

In our efforts to facilitate post-secondary learning and promote quality of life-enhancing experiences for students with disabilities, it is important for qualified students with disabilities to know their rights as outlined in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 “No otherwise qualified individual in the United States, shall solely by reason of his/her handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” (PL 93-112, 1973)

In order to be granted protections afforded to a person with a disability under Section 504, individuals must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life functions
  • have a history of such impairment
  • be regarded as having such impairment
  • be deemed to be “otherwise qualified” despite the disability

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)

The ADA expands the provisions in Section 504 to the private sector. It prohibits discrimination against the same population as Section 504 but includes areas that were not previously covered under Section 504, such as private businesses, non-government-funded accommodations, and services provided by state or local governments.

Under the ADA, an individual with a disability is a person who has:

  • physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities (including walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working);
  • a record of such an impairment; or
  • is regarded as having such an impairment.

Impact on Support Services/Academic Accommodations

The ADA, stipulates that an individual’s disability must “substantially limit” a major life activity. Factors that may be considered in determining whether there is a substantial limitation include:

  • the nature and severity of the impairment
  • the duration of the impairment
  • the permanent or long-term impact of the impairment (29 C.F.R. § 1630.2[j])

Disabilities Covered by Legislation (but not limited to)

  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Head Injuries
  • Psychiatric Disorders
  • Loss of Limb(s)
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Cancer
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Hearing/Vision/Speech Impairments

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