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ADA / 504 Legal Rights

Educational institutions have a basic legal responsibility to ensure access for disabled students.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 states that "No otherwise qualified disabled person in the United States, as defined in section 7, shall, solely by reason of disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity..."

The regulation defines a person with a disability as any person who has "a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such impairment."

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an individual with a disability is anyone who:

  • has a physical, sensory, or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (e.g., caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and/or working)
  • has a record of such an impairment (has a history of, or has been classified as having a mental, sensory, or physical impairment)
  • is regarded as having such an impairment (is perceived by others in the environment as being limited in performing certain major life activities)

Disabilities include, but are not limited to:

  • blindness or visual impairments
  • cerebral palsy
  • deafness or hearing impairments
  • epilepsy or seizure disorders
  • orthopedic impairment
  • speech disorders
  • spinal cord or traumatic brain injury
  • specific learning disabilities
  • chronic illnesses such AIDS, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy or psychiatric disabilities

Court cases continually reinterpret Section 504 and the ADA. These rulings affect definitions of key legal terms such as "reasonable accommodation," "undue hardship" and "fundamental alteration" (of courses and curricula). Pima continually monitors changes in judicial interpretation when making decisions about services and accommodations.

Please refer to the Rights and Responsibilities web page for additional information.  Additional information is also provided on the U.S. Department of Justice ADA home page.