Section 504 states, “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability …shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, 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 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of a student’s educational records, including the documentation of a disability. The law applies to all colleges and universities that receive funds from any program under the U.S. Department of Education.
The ADA uses the same definition of disability as does Section 504. However, it provides clarification of the phrase otherwise qualified. To be otherwise qualified, an individual with a disability must meet the essential eligibility requirements for admission and participation in the college or university’s programs, with or without:
Be in higher education if they are otherwise qualified to be there; equal access to courses, programs, services, jobs, activities, and facilities available through the university; reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services; appropriate confidentiality of all information pertaining to their disability with the choice of whom to disclose their disability, except as required by law; information that is readily available in accessible formats.
Meet and maintain the qualifications and university standards for courses, programs, services, jobs, and activities; provide current and comprehensive documentation of a diagnosed disability to the university’s disability services office; follow the procedures outlined by the disability services office in order to obtain accommodations; notify their instructors of their need for accommodations; advocate for their own needs.
Maintain academic standards of courses; determine course content and how it will be taught; confirm a student’s request for accommodations and ask for clarification about a specific accommodation with the disability services office; deny a request for accommodation if the student has not been approved for such accommodation; deny accommodations for students not registered with the disability services office; award grades appropriate to the level of student’s demonstration of mastery of material.
To understand the laws and college’s guidelines regarding students with disabilities; refer students to the disability services office when necessary; provide requested accommodations and academic adjustments to students who have documented disabilities in a timely manner; maintain appropriate confidentiality of records concerning students with disabilities, except when disclosure is required by law or authorized by the student; provide handouts, video tapes, and other course materials in accessible formats upon request; evaluate students based on their abilities rather than their disabilities.
Under the law, accommodations are not implemented to give students an unfair advantage; rather, accommodations are intended to give students with disabilities an equal opportunity to achieve the same results that other students have the opportunity to achieve.
NOTE: Approved accommodations may not always be applicable or appropriate for every class.
“Students in need of academic accommodations for a disability may consult with the office of Students Disability Services (SDS) to arrange appropriate accommodations. Students are required to give reasonable notice prior to requesting an accommodation.”
Reasonable accommodations are modifications to academic requirements that are necessary to ensure that such requirements do not discriminate on the basis of disability.
Accommodations are NOT considered reasonable if making the accommodation or allowing participation poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, requires a substantial change in an essential element of the curriculum, and/or imposes an undue financial or administrative burden.