Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. It applies to all colleges and universities that receive Federal financial aid.


Section 504 states, "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability …shall, solely by reason of her or his 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."


An individual is considered to be a person with a disability if he or she

  • Has a disability,
  • Has a history of a disability, or
  • Is perceived by others as having a disability.

A disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include “functions such as breathing, walking, talking, seeing, hearing, using one's hands, taking care of oneself, working and learning.”



Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires equal access to public programs and services for people with disabilities. ADA applies to all institutions of higher education, regardless of the receipt of federal funds.


The ADA uses the same definition of disability as does Section 504. However, it provides clarification of the phrase otherwise qualified. To be otherwise qualified, an individual with a disability must meet the essential eligibility requirements for admission and participation in the college or university's programs, with or without:


An individual is considered to be a person with a disability if he or she

  • Reasonable modifications to rules, policies, or practices;
  • Removal of architectural, communication, or transportation barriers; or
  • Provision of auxiliary aids and services.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of a student's educational records, including the documentation of a disability. The law applies to all colleges and universities that receive funds from any program under the U.S. Department of Education.