Disability Law

Disability Law

The rights of qualified students with disabilities are protected by Section 504 0f the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), both of which are laws aimed at ending discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act:

504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that … “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States … shall, solely by reason of … disability, be denied the benefits of, be excluded from the participation in, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

A person with a disability includes … “any person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities [including walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks], (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.”

A “qualified person with a disability” is defined as one … “who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the education program or activity.”

Disabilities covered by legislation include (but are not limited to) AIDS, blindness, cancer, cerebral palsy, diabetes, epilepsy, head injuries, hearing disabilities, specific learning disabilities, loss of limb(s), multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, emotional disabilities, speech disabilities, spinal cord injuries, and vision disabilities.

Under the provisions of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 … the College may not discriminate in the recruitment, admission, educational process, or treatment of students. Students who have self-identified, provided documentation of disability, and requested reasonable accommodations are entitled to receive approved modifications of programs, appropriate academic adjustments, or auxiliary aids that enable them to participate in and benefit from all educational programs and activities.

A college or university may not:

·         Limit the number of admitted students with disabilities

·         Make pre-admission inquiries as to whether or not an applicant has a disability

·         Use admission tests or criteria that inadequately measure the academic level of students with visual, hearing or other disabilities because provisions were not made for them

·         Exclude a student with a disability from any course of study solely on the basis of his/her disability

·         Counsel students with disabilities towards a more restrictive career than students without disabilities, unless such counsel is based on strict licensing or certification requirements in the profession

·         Measure student achievement using modes that adversely discriminate against students with disabilities

·         Institute prohibitive rules that may adversely affect the performance of students with disabilities

Section 202 of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 contains more specific information about compliance issues in post-secondary education than the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. The ADA did extend the law to cover private institutions of higher education as well as those receiving federal funding. Colleges and universities have experienced more rigid enforcement of the law with the passage of the ADA partially due to an increased awareness of people with disabilities about their rights to equal access to programs and services.



  1. “Reasonable accommodations” in college programs and services, are modifications of those programs, policies, practices, and procedures that enable qualified students with a disability to have an equal access to college programs, and equal opportunity to benefit from those programs and services while providing auxiliary aids and services.
  2. “Student” is a person enrolled at the college.
  3. A “qualified student” is one who, with or without reasonable accommodations, meets the academic technical standards required for admission to, participation in, and/or fulfilling the essential requirements of college programs or activities, and who has provided appropriate documentation of his/her disability.
  4. A “student with a disability” is a student who (1) has a physical, mental or sensory impairment that substantially limits one or more of his/her major life activities; (2) has a record of such an impairment or; (3) is perceived to have such an impairment, or a student who has an abnormal condition that is medically cognizable or diagnosable.
  5. “Undue hardships” is any excessively costly, extensive, substantial or disruptive modification or one that would substantially alter the nature or operation of the institution or any of its programs or services or threaten the health or safety of the college community.
  6. “Program accessibility” means that all programs and services, when viewed in their entirety, are accessible to persons with a disability.
Written by Kyle Sterner