Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that: "No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States shall solely by reason of handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."
Per this legislation, a "handicapped" individual is any person having (a) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the person's major life activities, (b) has a record of the impairment, or (c) is regarded by others as having this impairment. The modifier "otherwise qualified" specifies that the handicapped person meet the necessary academic and technical standards for admission to or participation in the university's programs and activities.
Section 504 prohibits colleges and universities receiving federal funding from discrimination in the recruitment, admission, or treatment of students with disabilities. It states that students may request reasonable accommodations that enable them to participate in and benefit from an institution's educational programs and activities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 guarantees the civil rights of persons with disabilities. The ADA strengthens and extends the provisions of Section 504 to include employment practices, communications and all policies, procedures and practices that affect the treatment of students with disabilities. Title I of the ADA covers employment issues for all institutions. For all other programs and activities, Title II pertains to public institutions while private institutions are mandated under Title III.
Disability: A person with a disability is anyone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working. In addition to those persons with visible disabilities, the definition includes persons with a range of invisible or hidden disabilities. These include psychological disabilities, learning disabilities and some chronic health conditions such as epilepsy, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, cardiac problems and HIV/AIDS. Also included are persons who are former users or are in recovery for drug and/or alcohol addiction. A person is considered to be a person with a disability if he/she has a disability, has a record of a disability or is regarded as having a disability.
Reasonable Accommodation: A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a course, program, service, job, facility, or activity that enables a qualified person with a disability to have an equal opportunity to participate.