Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a national law that protects qualified individuals from discrimination based on their disability.The nondiscrimination requirements of the law apply to employers and organizations that receive financial assistance from any Federal department or agency.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008 give civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, State and local government services, and telecommunications.
Who Is Protected from Discrimination?
Section 504 and the ADA/ADAAA protect qualified individuals with disabilities. Under these laws, individuals with disabilities are defined as persons with a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. People who have a history of, or who are regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, are also covered. Major life activities include caring for one’s self, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, performing manual tasks, and learning. Some examples of impairments which may substantially limit major life activities, even with the help of medication or aids/devices, are: AIDS, alcoholism, blindness or visual impairment, cancer, deafness or hearing impairment, diabetes, drug addiction, heart disease, and mental illness.
In addition to meeting this definition, for purposes of receiving services, education or training, qualified individuals with disabilities are persons who meet normal and essential eligibility requirements.
What Constitutes Discrimination Under These Laws?
Section 504 and the ADA/ADAAA prohibitions against discrimination apply to service availability, accessibility, delivery, employment, and the administrative activities and responsibilities of organizations receiving Federal financial assistance. A recipient of Federal financial assistance may not, on the basis of disability:
- Deny qualified individuals the opportunity to participate in or benefit from federally funded programs, services, or other benefits.
- Deny access to programs, services, benefits or opportunities to participate as a result of physical barriers.
- Deny employment opportunities, including hiring, promotion, training, and fringe benefits, for which they are otherwise entitled or qualified.
What Are Reasonable Accommodations For Individuals with Disabilities?
Qualified individuals with disabilities attending post-secondary institutions have the right to request reasonable accommodations and/or academic adjustments in order to have equal access to all programs and services. Post-secondary institutions must grant reasonable accommodations unless they would fundamentally alter program content, outcomes, or cause the institution undue hardship.
For purposes of employment, qualified individuals with disabilities are persons who, with reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job for which they have applied or have been hired to perform. Reasonable accommodation means an employer is required to take reasonable steps to accommodate the disability unless it would cause the employer undue hardship.
Visitors & Guests
Places of public accommodation, including private institutions, must give persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in and to benefit from their services. They cannot provide unequal or separate benefits to persons with disabilities. They must modify their policies and practices when necessary to provide equal access to services and facilities.
For information on how to file a complaint of discrimination, or to obtain additional information please contact the institutional Section 504/ADA Coordinator, Andrea Vassar, at 410-778-7883 | FAX: 410-778-7884 | firstname.lastname@example.org or the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at 800-421-3481 | FAX: 202-453-6012 | TDD: 800-877-8339 | OCR@ed.gov. You may also file an ADA complaint through the Department of Justice using an online form found at http://www.ada.gov/filing_complaint.htm.