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ADA and Section 504
Information provided here should not be construed as legal advice in any way.

Students and parents familiar with the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1990 (IDEA) often are surprised to find that this law does not apply to postsecondary education.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) are the primary civil rights statutes that promise protection from discrimination based on disability for students in postsecondary education. Both promise equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights law designed to eliminate discrimination based on disability in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Section 504 guarantees certain rights to individuals with disabilities.

Specifically, 34 C.F.R.#chr(167)#104 states:

"No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined by section 7(20), shall, solely by reason of his/her disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity of a public or private entity that receives or benefits from Federal financial assistance..."

"Otherwise qualified"...with respect to post-secondary educational services, means a person who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the education program or activity with or without

  • reasonable modifications to rules, policies, or practices;
  • removal of architectural, communication, or transportation barriers; or
  • provision of auxiliary aids and services.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 expands the mandates established in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. This law reinforces previous state and federal statutes, preserving the rights of persons with disabilities but not superseding them. The ADA extends to the private sector and allows for greater access to employment, transportation, and public accommodations.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 defines an individual with a disability as a person who:

  • has a physical or mental impairment, which substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include, but are not limited to:
  • self-care
  • manual tasks
  • walking
  • seeing
  • hearing
  • speaking
  • breathing
  • learning
  • working
  • has a record of such an impairment; or
  • is regarded as having such impairment.

Examples of Types of Disabilities

  • Vision Impairments
  • Mental Health/Psychiatric Impairments
  • Hearing Impairments
  • Health Impairments/Chronic Illnesses
  • Mobility Impairments