The Law and Academic Accommodations
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and The Americans with Disability Act of 1990 are laws that prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was an initial step in the right direction; however, it only applied to programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. This was not enough to address the needs of people with disabilities and protect them against discrimination since it continued to happen outside federal financial assistance recipients. That’s why in 1990 Congress passed The Americans with Disabilities Act. This new law not only prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance, but also in employment, public services, public accommodations and telecommunications.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is divided into five titles or sections:
- Title I – Employment
- Title II – Public Services: State and Local Government
- Title III – Public Accommodations and Services Operated by Private Entities
- Title IV – Telecommunications
- Title V – Miscellaneous Provisions
Title II of The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 applies to state and local government; therefore, universities fall into this category. Applying this law in higher education means universities are forbidden to discriminate against qualified students with disabilities on the basis of disability in services and programs it provides. Therefore, in order to make sure students with disabilities are given equal access to all its services and instructional material, universities provide accommodations designed to eliminate the barriers interfering with this process. By implementing academic accommodations, universities are not only in compliance with section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and The American with disability Act of 1990, but are also leveling the playing field so that students with disability have equal access to higher education.
U.S. Department of Education.(2015).Disability Discrimination: Overview of the Laws.Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/policy/rights/guid/ocr/disabilityoverview.html
U.S. Department of Education.(2013).A Level Playing Field, an Equal Starting Line.Retrieved from https://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/level-playing-field-equal-starting-line