Qualifying as a person with a disability
A person with a disability is anyone who has a physical (e.g., quadriplegia) or mental (e.g., anxiety disorder) impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (e.g., learning), has a record of such an impairment (e.g., a record of having a specific learning disability), or is regarded as having such an impairment (e.g., a student who is denied admission to medical school because he is HIV positive; see also 34 C.F.R. § 104.3). With respect to postsecondary education, a qualified student with a disability is one who is able to meet a program's admission, academic, and technical standards (i.e., all essential nonacademic admissions criteria) either with or without accommodation. Federal regulations for the ADA support the "general population" approach and state that a person is substantially limited when his or her life activities are "restricted as to the conditions, manner, or duration under which they can be performed in comparison to most people"' (emphasis added) (28 C.F.R. App. B to Part 36).
Once a student has sufficiently documented that he or she has a qualifying disability, a college is responsible for providing reasonable accommodations or modifications that do not result in unfair advantage, require significant alteration to the program or activity, result in the lowering of academic or technical standards, or cause the college to incur undue financial hardship.
When accommodations are necessary they must be provided in a timely fashion and include, but are not limited to, adjustments in time lines for the completion of degree requirements, substitutions for course requirements, adaptation of specific courses in the way they are delivered, the use of tape recorders in classrooms, auxiliary aids such as, readers in libraries for students with visual impairments, classroom equipment adapted for use by students with manual impairments, or the use of a guide dog in campus buildings)). However, colleges are not required to provide personal health care attendants, readers for personal use or study, or other personal devices or services.
Lane College provides academic accommodations such as:
- Extended Testing time (time and half) or modify exams
- Test in distraction free environment
- Assistance with Note taking (taped lectures)
- Extend time for in-class assignments
- Preferential classroom seating
- Provide student the opportunity to make-up assignments due to any class missed due to medical conditions
- Provide information for tutoring
- Allow student additional time to arrive to class (modify tardy policy)
- Classes moved to first level
- Waiver of campus meal plan requirement
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Section 504 stipulates that no otherwise qualified person due to disability may be denied the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance (29 U.S.C. § 794(a)). Note that this statute applies only to public and private "recipients" of federal aid (see Table 1). However, nearly all public and most private colleges are recipients. Moreover, if aid is received anywhere within a college, the entire institution is required to comply with the act's provisions. To demonstrate compliance, a college must file an assurance of compliance (i.e., a document attesting to the fact that the institution does not discriminate based on disability), provide notice to participants that the recipient's program does not discriminate based on disability, identify a specific employee to coordinate compliance, conduct a self-evaluation, engage in voluntary action to correct those circumstances that may have limited the participation of students with disabilities, adopt grievance procedures, and remediate violations of the act (McCarthy, Cambron-McCabe, & Thomas, 1998, p. 168). The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for much of the enforcement of Section 504 in educational institutions.
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
In addition to Section 504, Title II of the ADA prohibits public entities (e.g., state government, public schools, public colleges) from denying qualified persons with disabilities the right to participate in or benefit from the services, programs, or activities that they provide, and from subjecting such individuals to discrimination if the exclusion or discrimination is due to the person having a disability (42 U.S.C. § 12132). The OCR also is responsible for the enforcement of Title 11 of ADA.