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Section 504 & ADA

Section 504 & the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that no otherwise qualified person due to disability may be denied the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance - The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for much of the enforcement of Section 504 in educational institutions.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.

Title II of the ADA covers all activities of State and local governments and prohibits public entities (e.g., state government, public schools & colleges) from denying qualified persons with disabilities the right to participate in or benefit from the services, programs, or activities that they provide, and from subjecting such individuals to discrimination if the exclusion or discrimination is due to the person having a disability. The OCR is responsible for the enforcement of Title II.

Title III of the ADA covers businesses and nonprofit service providers that are public accommodations, (privately operated entities offering certain types of courses and examinations, privately operated transportation, and commercial facilities) and prohibits private entities and service providers from discriminating against persons with disabilities by denying them full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations they provide – The Department of Justice is responsible for the enforcement of Title III.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act are considered civil rights laws, while those that govern secondary institutions, such as the Individual with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA] are entitlement laws.
American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)

Who is eligible for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Under the ADA, a person with a disability is defined as a person who has

  • any physical or mental impairment, which substantially limits any major life activity (i.e., seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, learning, reading, breathing, lifting, sitting, standing, taking care of oneself, and working).
  • has a record of such an impairment (i.e. documentation)
  • is regarded as having such an impairment

Substantially Limits is defined as:

  • "in comparison to most people in the general population"
  • "in comparison to the average person having comparable training, skills, and abilities"
  • "in comparison to the average unimpaired student"
  • "the disparity between inherent capacity and performance"