Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center | Relevant Legislation

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Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Assurance of equal educational opportunity rests upon legal foundations established by federal law, specifically the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 including Section 504. It states in part that “No otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities in the United States…shall solely by reason of his 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.” Section 504 [29 USC 794] Sec 504

By federal law, a person with a disability is any person who:

  • has a physical or mental impairment

  • has a record of such impairment; or

  • is regarded as having such an impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities such as self-care, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, or learning.

Section 504 Implementing Regulations [34 CFR Part 104.44(a)]

“A recipient to which this subpart applies shall make such modifications to its academic requirements as are necessary to insure that such requirements do not discriminate or have the effect of discriminating, on the basis of handicap, against a qualified handicapped applicant or student. Academic requirements that the recipient can demonstrate are essential to the program of instruction being pursued by such student…will not be regarded as discriminatory within the meaning of this section.”

Implications for universities

Public institutions that receive federal financial assistance may not discriminate in the recruitment, admission, or treatment of students. Students with documented disabilities are entitled to modifications, accommodations, or auxiliary aids, which will enable them to participate in and benefit from all postsecondary educational programs and activities. The university must make such changes to ensure that the academic program is accessible to the greatest extend possible by all students with disabilities.

Under the provisions of Section 504, state universities may not:

  • limit the number of students with disabilities admitted;

  • make preadmission inquiries as to whether or not an applicant is disabled;

  • use admissions tests or criteria that inadequately measure the academic qualifications of disabled students;

  • exclude a qualified student with a disability from any course of study;

  • limit eligibility to a student with a disability for financial assistance or otherwise discriminate in administering scholarships, fellowships, internships, assistantships on the basis of disability;

  • counsel a student with a disability towards a more restrictive career;

  • measure student achievement using modes that adversely discriminate against a student with a disability; or

  • establish rules and policies that may adversely affect students with disabilities

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990


The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) upholds and extends the standards for compliance set forth in Section 504. It is civil rights legislation, which provides a clear mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Specifically, it guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. The ADA is divided into five parts:

Title I: Covers nondiscrimination in employment activities.

Title II: Subpart A requires that state and local government entities and programs be made accessible. Subpart B covers transportation and requires that public transportation systems be made fully accessible and usable.

Title III: Covers the accessibility and availability of programs, goods, and services provided by private entities.

Title IV: Requires telecommunication services be made accessible to persons with speech and hearing impairments and has specific reference to the development of telecommunication relay systems and closed captioning technology.

Title V: Contains miscellaneous provisions that apply to all of the other titles as well.

Title II of ADA Regulations [28 CFR 35.130(b) (7)]

“A public entity shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures when the modifications are necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability, unless the public entity can demonstrate that making the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity.”


General Considerations


Responsibilities of the Center for Students with Disabilities

Determining eligibility for participation of students with disabilities in the academic accommodations process based upon a review of appropriate documentation.

  • Determining appropriate accommodations for each student based on individual need.

  • Responsible for seeing that students receive appropriate accommodations.

  • Responsible for interacting with faculty when appropriate.

Responsibilities of the Student

  • Contacting the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) or the University Program for College Students with Learning Disabilities (UPLD) at the beginning of each semester to identify himself/herself as a student with a disability. Students must provide documentation of the disability by an appropriate licensed professional.

  • Once identified as a student with a disability, the student will consult with CSD or UPLD staff to determine academic accommodations or program modifications.

  • Informing the faculty member or professor at the beginning of each semester as to their disability, how their performance may be affected, and what accommodation(s) they will need.

  • Students with disabilities must maintain the same responsibility for their education as students who do not have disabilities. This includes maintaining the same academic levels, maintaining appropriate behavior and giving timely notification of any special needs. A student must be able to comprehend the course material and communicate that comprehension to the instructor.

Responsibilities of the Faculty Member

  • Responsible for discussing with the Center any concerns related to the accommodation(s) or arrangements that have been requested by the student in their initial contacts. Faculty should meet with students who provide an accommodation letter to establish the means of providing the accommodation as early in the semester as possible.

  • If a student requests that an instructor provide accommodations for a disability and the faculty member has had no official notification of the student’s need for accommodation (from either the CSD or UPLD), the instructor should assist the student in contacting the CSD or UPLD.

  • Responsible for assuring that appropriate accommodations are provided, either by providing the accommodation themselves or by making appropriate arrangements with the CSD or UPLD.

  • Faculty are not able to refuse to provide required accommodations, to question whether the disability exists when accommodations have been authorized by the college, or to request to examine the student’s documentation without a written consent signed by the student. However, faculty members can have input and should arrange with student the means for providing accommodation in a particular class.

  • Faculty must provide accommodations that give students with disabilities the opportunity to achieve the intended outcome of the course, so long as the accommodation does not alter the fundamental nature of the course or program.


The Accommodations Process


Offices for Students with Disabilities

There are two University-designated agents responsible for determining reasonable and appropriate accommodations. The University Program for Students with Learning Disabilities (UPLD), which is part of the Neag School of Education, works with students with documented learning disabilities. The Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD), a department within student affairs, works with students with all other disabilities. In some cases, a student may have multiple disabilities (i.e., attention deficit disorder and a learning disability) in which case the student may work with both offices. It would not be unusual for a faculty member to receive an accommodation letter from one or both offices.

Accommodation Letters

Once a student is registered with the CSD, they are encouraged to request academic accommodations within the first two weeks of each semester. The CSD will then generate a confidential academic accommodation request letter to each faculty member indicating the student’s requested accommodations. This means that the student has registered with the CSD, has a documented disability, and the CSD has determined what accommodations are appropriate. Faculty is encouraged to discuss these accommodations with students and CSD staff should any concerns arise. It is the responsibility of the student to notify the CSD if accommodations are not in place or are not effective.


Students with disabilities are required to submit medical documentation to the CSD, which verifies their disability and need for appropriate accommodations. Documentation guidelines for specific disabilities can be accessed at . The CSD will maintain confidentiality and will not disclose any information pertaining to a student’s disability to faculty unless we have written permission from the student. The CSD will inform faculty of the accommodation(s) it has determined the student needs to access an equal opportunity education so as to arrange reasonable accommodations.

Confidentiality of all disability information is essential. At no time should the class be informed that a student has a disability, except at the student’s expressed request. All disability information, which the student gives to the faculty member, is to be used specifically for arranging reasonable accommodations for the course of study.


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