The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, reaffirmed by the 1992 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), was created to protect the rights of the population who have disabilities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act specifically applies to colleges and universities and it has a direct impact on our day-to-day activities.
It is every faculty and staff member's responsibility to become familiar with the law and make reasonable accommodations regarding all academic programs, all services and facilities within the institution. More importantly, we want to continue to do everything reasonable to assist our many talented and skilled persons with disabilities in reaching their potential.
THE FACTS ABOUT SECTION 504 IN THE CLASSROOM; WHAT IS SECTION 504?
In 1973 The Rehabilitation Act was passed; Section 504 of this act states that "no otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall solely by reason of his or her 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." Subpart E of Section 504 is applicable to all post-secondary educational programs and activities which receive Federal financial assistance. Colleges and universities must be free from discrimination in their recruitment, admissions and treatment of students.
An "otherwise qualified individual with a disability" is defined as one who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the Institute's programs and activities. This may include students who are Deaf or hard of hearing or who have orthopedic, speech, or learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, cancer, cerebral palsy, diabetes, blindness, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, AIDS, mental illness, drug or alcohol addiction in remission, heart disease or epilepsy.
HOW DOES THIS LAW IMPACT THE CLASSROOM?
For college students with disabilities, academic adjustments may be needed to insure maximal participation. These adjustments may include the use of auxiliary equipment and support staff. Students with disabilities may request academic modifications that allow for their maximal participation. If appropriate, students will present faculty with a “Disability Services Agreement” from the Disability Services Office that lists their accommodations. Examples of reasonable and timely accommodations are:
- Extended test time. Test in an alternate location with a proctor.
- Use of alternate methods for students to demonstrate course mastery.
- Use of basic four function calculators, word processors, spell check devices, readers (or reader software), or scribes (or word recognition software) during examinations.
- Provision for note takers.
- Removal of structural or architectural barriers or disturbances.
It is vital that faculty select or provide accessible media for their courses. See RIT’s guidelines for captioning audio-visual media on the Provost’s Faculty/Staff Resources page at http://www.rit.edu/provost/fac_staff_resources.
When considering the use of emerging technology such as electronic book readers and Web-based educational products, be aware that some of these devices and products lack an accessible text-to-speech function or enlargement capability so may not be accessible to students who are blind, have low vision or other print disabilities.
WHERE CAN THE RESOURCES REGARDING SECTION 504 BE FOUND?
Questions about accommodations for students with disabilities can be addressed to Susan Ackerman, Disability Services Director, at 475-6988. Visit the website at: www.rit.edu/dso.
Approved September 1992
Revised January 2001
Revised July 2012