Section 504 and ADA
Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 1990 are civil rights legislation designed to prevent discrimination against individuals with disabilities. These laws give civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities in employment, all public services including education, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications. This means that while in college both laws guarantee equal opportunity for students with disabilities. This handout describes who is eligible for these protections, student and institutional (college) obligations and examples of services which can be provided.
Definition of an individual with a disability:
A person with (1) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of the individual (2) a record of such an impairment, or (3) being regarded as having such an impairment.
- A physical impairment is defined as any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine
- A mental impairment is defined as any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, or mental illness and Specific Learning Disabilities
- Substantially limits is defined as being unable to perform or being significantly limited in the ability to perform a major life activity when compared to the average person in the general population
- Major life activities are defined as functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, and participating in community activities
Examples of disabling conditions:
Previous disabilities identified in K-12 special education programs (e.g., learning disabilities, mental retardation, serious emotional disturbance, etc...), AIDS, cancer, alcohol or drug addiction (so long as the student is not a current user of unlawful drugs), environmental illness, attention deficit disorder, diabetes, asthma, physical disabilities, psychological disorders, etc... The condition must substantially limit a major life activity.