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Compliance: Americans with Disabilities Act & Rehabilitation Act of 1973/Section 504

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 were established in order to provide a clear comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Section 504 is the section of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that specifically created civil rights to individuals with disabilities. Section 504 provides that no qualified individual with a disability should, only by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

West Virginia University placed the administrative responsibility for ADA/Rehabilitation Act compliance in the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Examples of issues within the scope of this responsibility include program accessibility for all institutional constituents, removing existing architectural and physical barriers, ensuring that capital projects are in compliance, arranging for accessible transportation, providing ongoing education and training, and ensuring compliance in employment practices. Both ADA requirement and guiding principles for ADA/Rehabilitation Act compliance are available from this office. Consultation on disability-related issues is available and encouraged.

Definition:

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990

An individual with a disability is defined as a person who: (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more life activities; or (2) has a record of such impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such impairment. Major life activities include but are not limited to walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prohibits discrimination solely on the basis of disability in employment, public services, and accommodations. The person must be otherwise qualified for the program, service, or job.

The ADA details administrative requirements, complaint procedures, and the consequences for non-compliance related to both services and employment. The ADA requires provision of reasonable effective accommodations for eligible students across educational activities and settings.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs, public and private, that receive federal financial assistance. Section 504 covers institutions regardless of whether they have open door, selective, or competitive admissions practices.

People with disabilities have the same legal remedies that are available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended in 1991. Thus, individuals who are discriminated against may file a complaint with the relevant federal agency or sue in federal court. Enforcement agencies encourage informal mediation and voluntary compliance.