RAMIFICATIONS OF THE REHABILITATION ACT OF 1973 AND THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the ADA, prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. Appropriate academic accommodations may need to be made to, in effect, "level the playing field" for qualified students with disabilities. Under these laws students have rights and responsibilities. Both the request for accommodation and the provision of support must be "appropriate and timely," and the institution is not required to jump through hoops to meet the needs of students who fail to give adequate notice of their accommodation needs.
With the above in mind, a few pertinent points are as follows:
- Academic requirements which may appear to or have the effect of discriminating on the basis of disability are subject to the following:
- It must be demonstrated that the requirement is essential to the course of study being pursued.
- It must be demonstrated that the requirement is necessary for licensing.
- Academic rules and regulations that have the effect of limiting participation in programs or activities (i.e., refusing to allow tape recorders, braillers, or guide dogs) are prohibited.
- Alternate testing procedures must be developed/implemented so that the student's achievement is being measured rather than impaired sensory, manual or speaking skills, unless such skills are the factor being measured. Departments/schools are encouraged to communicate the availability of these alternative procedures.
- No student with a disability may be denied "the benefits of, excluded from participation in or otherwise subjected to discrimination" under any educational program or activity because of an absence of educational auxiliary aids for students with impaired sensory functioning.
- Students with disabilities may not be counselled toward more restrictive career objectives than nondisabled students with similar interests and abilities. This requirement does not preclude providing factual information about licensing and certification requirements that may present obstacles to disabled persons in their pursuit of particular degrees/careers.
- Other adjustments in policies or practices may be required in order to comply with these nondiscrimination statutes.
- Modifications should not be based on any generalizations regarding categories of disability, but should be made in individual instances on a case by case basis. In general, modifications should be made to accommodate students' disabilities within the most integrated setting appropriate.
- Questions regarding the Rehabilitation Act/ADA may be addressed to the Office of Disability Resources.
(Supplied by Accessibility Services) 8/98