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The Law and Disability Services

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 along with the Amendments Act of 2008, which was signed into law on September 25, 2008 and became effective January 1, 2009, prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states: “[n]o otherwise qualified person with a disability in the United States... shall, solely on the basis of disability, be denied access to, or the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity provided by any institution receiving federal financial assistance...”

An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as
“...a person who has a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities,...”

The term “qualified,” in post-secondary education, means that the student meets the academic and technical standards required for participation in the class, program, or activity but has a physical and/or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity, including, but not limited to, caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, and working. Major life activities may also include school- related tasks such as learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating. Major life activities also include the operation of “major bodily functions,” including, but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, and digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

Thus, colleges and universities are required to make reasonable accommodations in their practices, policies and procedures, and to provide auxiliary aids and services for persons with disabilities, unless to do so would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations they offer, or would result in an undue financial or administrative burden on the institution. (Source: A Guide to Disability Rights Laws).