Assurance of equal educational opportunity rests upon legal foundations established by federal law, specifically the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 including Section 504, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended in 2008.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act of 2008
Federal statutes govern the rights of individuals with disabilities.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) states that no “otherwise qualified person” with a disability can be excluded from, denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity within an institution that receives federal financial aid.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (as amended, 2008) defines a person with a disability as any individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is perceived by others as having such an impairment.
Taken together, Section 504 and the ADA (and ADAAA) require institutions of higher education to provide equal access to educational opportunities to otherwise qualified persons with disabilities.
Reasonable accommodations in college programs and services (auxiliary aides and services and academic adjustments) enable qualified students with a disability to have equal access to college programs, and equal opportunity to benefit from those programs and services.
A student is a person enrolled at the college.
A qualified student is one who, with or without reasonable accommodations, meets the academic and 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.
A student with a disability is one who has a physical, mental or sensory impairment that substantially limits one or more of his/her major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having a disability.