Section 504 and the ADA
Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disability Act (ADA 1990) are the federal statutes that guarantee the right of people with disabilities to equal opportunity for access in all programs and activities, who receive federal financial assistance. It prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals solely on the basis of disability. Post secondary education is governed by Section 504 and the ADA.
According to the 504/ADA, the student is responsible for providing required documentation and requesting appropriate supported accommodations. It further states that the student must be "otherwise qualified." This means that despite having a disability, the student is able to meet the admission standards for the institution, and demonstrated that he/she is able to meet or exceed the academic standards set by the institution, and he/she must do so whether or not they request accommodations.
In contrast, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) governs K-12 students with disabilities by providing services for identifying, evaluating and planning an IEP (Individual education plan). Colleges do not necessarily provide the same accommodations that were provided in the high school IEP since the reasons for accommodations in high school are different than in college. College accommodations focus on accessibility.
The diagnosis of a disability does not necessarily imply the need for accommodations. Degree of impairment and current functioning are critical factors in the determining of appropriate accommodations. The documentation provided to Hartwick must be thorough enough to support the specific accommodation requested. If an individual request accommodations for symptoms not reported in the documentation, further information will be required. In summary, the college student requesting an accommodation must demonstrate that he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a life function that includes walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks.
For more complete description of legislative laws, please visit http://www.washington.edu/doit/Faculty/Rights/Legal/.
For additional information: U.S. Department of Education: Office of Civil Rights: Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities