Section 504: the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
The purpose of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is to empower individuals with disabilities, to maximize their opportunities for employment, economic self-sufficiency, personal independence, and inclusion and integration into society. Section 504 of Title V of this Act states:
"No otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities in the United States shall, solely by reason of the 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 Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
ADA is a federal civil rights law that guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in state and local government services, public accommodations, employment, transportation, and telecommunications. It upholds and extends the standards for compliance set forth in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to include all policies, procedures, and practices that impact the treatment of students with disabilities.
Taken together, these two federal laws, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA of 1990, provide the essential legal mandate for higher education. Educational accommodations or academic adjustments are the services or strategies necessary to provide equal access for the student with a disability in an academic setting. Such accommodations must be "reasonable" in that they do not alter the essential nature of the task, and that they do not pose an "undue administrative or financial burden."
An accommodation does not compromise the essential elements of a course or curriculum, nor does it weaken the academic standards or integrity of a course. Accommodations simply provide an alternative way to accomplish the course requirements by eliminating or reducing disability-related barriers. They provide a level playing field, not an unfair advantage.
The law provides that a student with a disability has the right to request accommodation from the college or university once he or she has provided appropriate documentation of the disability to the appropriate personnel at the institution.
The Office of AccessABILITY located at East 1214B is the designated office at Hunter College.