ADA and Section 504

Section 504: The Law and Its Impact

What Is The Law?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that:

"No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States...shall, solely by reason of his handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

One of the first areas that required further elaboration in the Act concerned the term "qualified handicapped individual." Congress passed the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1974 in an attempt to clarify participant eligibility.

Section 7 (6) of the Act was amended by adding the following new sentence: "For purposes of Titles IV and V of this Act, such term means any person who (A) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities (B) has a record of such impairment, or (C) is regarded as having such an impairment."

Who Is Protected Under The Law?

A "qualified handicapped person" is defined as one who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the institution's programs and activities. This would include students with any of the following disabilities:

  • Cognitive
  • Hearing
  • Learning
  • Health
  • Physical
  • Psychological
  • Vision
  • Temporary

How has the Law Impacted Post Secondary Education?

Subpart E of Section 504 is applicable to all post secondary educational programs and activities which receive Federal financial assistance. In brief, colleges and universities must be free from discrimination in their recruitment, admissions, and treatment of students. Reasonable accommodations in the academic program must be made by the educational institution to insure equal participation by all students with disabilities.

Under the provisions of Section 504, colleges and universities may not:

  • Limit the number of students with disabilities admitted.
  • Make pre-admission inquiries as to whether or not an applicant is disabled.
  • Use admission tests or criteria that inadequately measure the academic level of blind, deaf, or otherwise disabled applicants, because special provisions were not made for them.
  • Exclude a student from a course of study.
  • Counsel a student with a disability toward a more restrictive career.
  • Measure student achievement using modes that adversely discriminate against the student with a disability.
  • Institute prohibitive rules that may adversely affect students with disabilities.

Colleges and Universities could be required to:

  • Extend the time permitted for a student with a disability to earn a degree.
  • Modify teaching methods and examinations to meet the needs of students with disabilities without compromising the teaching standards of the course.
  • Develop course substitutions or waivers for students with disabilities.
  • Provide access to assistive technology.

What Can Colleges And Universities Do To Implement Program Modification Provisions?

Colleges and universities have sought to implement program modification provisions by developing affirmative programs that stress individualization and personal attention. For college students with disabilities "academic adjustments" may include adaptation of the manner in which specific courses are conducted, the use of auxiliary equipment and support staff, and modification in academic requirements.

These students need support services or programs that can provide them with sufficient flexibility to meet the demands of a post secondary institution.

"Reasonable and timely" accommodations that post secondary institutions can implement for program modifications may include these options:

  • Accommodation Counseling
  • Alternative Testing
  • Alternative Media
  • Assistive Technology
  • CART
  • Remote CART
  • Classroom Aides
  • Classroom and Building Access
  • Course Substitutions
  • Faculty Liaison Services
  • Interpreters for the Deaf
  • Note-Taking Services
  • Reduced Course Load Policy
  • Referrals to Campus and Community Services
  • Registration Assistance
  • TypeWell Transcription
  • Verification of Eligibility
  • Other Appropriate Services are Provided as Necessary

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) & Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008

What is it?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) are the civil rights guarantees for persons with disabilities in the United States. They provides protection from discrimination for individuals on the basis of disability. The ADA and the ADAAA extend civil rights protections for people with disabilities to employment in the private sector, transportation, public accommodations, services provided by state and local government, and telecommunications relay services. The significance of this legislation is no less than the Civil Rights Acts in the 1960's for minorities.
Who are the individuals with disabilities?
A person with a disability is anyone with a physical or mental impairment (has a history of such a condition, or perceived by others to be disabled) that substantially impairs or restricts one or more major life activities such as: Cognitive, Hearing, Learning, Health, Physical, Psychological, Vision, or Temporary disability.
How does the ADA affect students at post secondary institutions?
Post secondary institutions that receive federal money have been required to comply with a similar disability nondiscrimination law - Section 504 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973. The ADA upholds and extends the standards for compliance set forth in Section 504 to employment and promotion practices, meeting planning, and communications.
How does post secondary institutions benefit from the ADAAA?
Improved access by private business and public transportation will increase use of campus education, recreational, and cultural facilities and programs, possibly generating new income and increased enrollment. Also, an increased number of qualified students with disabilities will enhance the cultural diversity of campus.
By educating and graduating a larger number of persons with disabilities, post secondary institutions fill a need in business and industry by providing a qualified pool of workers. Alumni with disabilities who are working in business and industry are highly credible endorsements for an institutions' programs and faculty.

Resources for the ADAAA & 504