Relevant Disability Laws and Higher Education:
Two major pieces of federal law exist that mandates a legal obligation to provide accommodations to individuals with disabilities. They are Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans’ with Disabilities Act of 1990. In addition, New Jersey has a Law Against Discrimination.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.l. 93-112) states:
“No otherwise qualified handicapped individual, shall, solely by reason of the handicap be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance”.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) Upholds and extends the standards for compliance under Section 504. This comprehensive civil rights act provides increased protection for individuals with disabilities both in the public and private sector.
New Jersey Law Against Discrimination
Who is Considered a Person with a Disability?
A person with a disability is an individual with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. An individual is considered to be a person with a disability if she/he (1) has a disability (2) has a history of disability or (3) is perceived by others as having a disability.
Conditions considered a disability include but not limited to:
|Attention Deficit Disorder
|Deafness/Hard of hearing
|Drug Addiction (recovered)
The Law and Higher Education Implications:
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, all institutions of higher education must comply with policies, procedures and employment practices that impact individuals with disabilities. Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 institutions must also make appropriate and reasonable for students with disabilities to ensure full accessibility in academic courses and programs as well as in non-academic areas of the institution. All campus programs, services, and activities must be fully accessible to students with disabilities.
Under the guidelines (34 C.F.R. Part 104 of Section 504) the institution is expected to uphold the following conditions:
- Not limiting the number of students with disabilities admitted to the institution.
- Prohibiting pre-admission inquiries as to whether or not an applicant has a disability.
- Modifying degree and/or course requirements to ensure that the requirements do not discriminate against qualified students with disabilities. However, institutions are not required to fundamentally alter the standards of a program or course.
- Permitting auxiliary aids in the classroom to ensure full participation of students with disabilities.
- Not excluding an otherwise qualified student with a disability from any course of study.
- Counseling students towards more restrictive career than students without disabilities is discriminatory, unless such counsel is based on strict defensible licensing or certification requirements in a profession.
- Ensuring that every program and service within an institution is accessible to students with disabilities.