What is a disability?

A disability is a physical, learning or psychological impairment or disease that substantially limits a major life activity. Some examples of major life activities are:

  • Learning
  • Focusing
  • Reading
  • Talking
  • Remembering
  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Writing
  • Seeing
  • Hearing
  • Walking

  

What is the law and how does it apply to higher education?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the American with Disabilities Act mandate that universities provide all, otherwise qualified, students, equal access to programs and activities by having nondiscriminatory standards in all academic areas and by providing necessary accommodations on a case by case basis.

 

What is the difference between accommodations in K-12 and post-secondary?

 

K-12

Law: IDEA is to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment to eligible students with disabilities, including special education and related services. 504/ADA are to ensure that no otherwise qualified person with a disability is denied access to, benefits of, or is subjected to discrimination in any program or activity provided by any public institution or entity.

Goal: Foster success

Legal Rights: The right to a HS diploma

Persons covered: All infants, children and youth requiring special education services until age 21 or graduation from high school are covered. A list of disabilities is provided in IDEA, and includes specific learning disabilities.

 

Post-Secondary

Legal Mandate: 504/ADA ensure that no otherwise qualified person with a disability will be denied access to, the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination by any program or activity provided by any public institution or entity.

Goal: Equal Access

Legal right: The right for equal access to higher education

Persons covered: All qualified persons with disabilities who meet the entry criteria, or particular program criteria of the college and who can document the existence of a disability as defined by the ADA, are covered. Disability is defined as "Any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; having a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having an impairment."