The Legal Basis Of Our Work

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 are Civil Rights laws. They affirm that people with disabilities should have access to the social, economic, educational, and cultural aspects of national life. They assert that people with disabilities have an inalienable right to be treated as equals.

Section 504: Rehabilitation Act of 1973

In 1973, Congress passed Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of physical or mental disability (29 U.S.C. Section 794). It states: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States. . . shall solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Section 504 applies to all colleges that receive federal loans or federal grants to disburse to students.

The Office of Civil Rights in the U. S. Department of Education enforces regulations implementing Section 504 with respect to programs and activities that receive funding from the Department. Section 504 regulations apply to all recipients of this funding, including colleges, universities, and post-secondary vocational education and adult education programs. Failure by higher education schools to provide auxiliary aids to students with disabilities that results in a denial of a program benefit is discriminatory and prohibited by Section 504.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is the civil rights guarantee for persons with disabilities in the United States. It provides protection from discrimination for individuals based on disability. The ADA extends civil rights protection for people with disabilities to employment in the private sector, transportation, public accommodations, services provided by state and local government, and telecommunication relay services.

The ADA expands the essential concepts of Section 504 to all aspects of American society such as private employers, public accommodations (e.g., restaurants and motels), state and local government (e.g. public school districts, public colleges and universities, and public libraries), and the Telephone Relay system for the Deaf. In particular, Title II of the ADA strengthened the responsibility of public colleges and universities to ensure that qualified students with disabilities will not be discriminated against.