Wayne State College
Student Center, Rm. 103
1111 Main St.
Wayne, NE 68787
Section 504 ofThe Rehabilitation Act
Title V of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
is generally regarded as the first federal "civil rights"
statute for people with disabilities. Title V mandates nondiscrimination
in federal agencies (Section 501) and the establishment
of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance
Board (Section 502). Of most direct importance to the postsecondary
education community are Sections 503 and 504.
Section 503: Section 503 prohibits discrimination
on the basis of disability in employment in institutions
that receive federal funding. Section 503 is not an affirmative
action statute and does not include a requirement to give
preference in employment to qualified people with disabilities.
Section 503 does, however, include a mandate to actively
encourage application and consideration for employment of
Section 504: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973 is a program access statute that is designed
to ensure that programs receiving Federal funding be accessible
to students with disabilities. The legislation states that:
"No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the
United States shall, solely by reason of his handicap, be
excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of,
or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity
receiving Federal Financial Assistance..."
It is this Section 504 mandate that has prompted the development
of disability support services and programs in colleges
and universities across the United States. Subpart E of
Section 504 deals specifically with postsecondary educational
institutions. Although it does not require special educational
programming be created for disabled college students, it
does require that an institution (public or private) be
prepared to make appropriate adjustments and reasonable
modifications to policies and practices in order to allow
the full participation of students with disabilities in
the same programs and activities available to nondisabled
In order to comply with this mandate, colleges and universities
that receive federal assistance must provide the same opportunities
for qualified students with disabilities as for qualified
nondisabled students to participate in campus programs and
activities such as academic, social, recreational and health
services, counseling, transportation and all other college
or university sponsored programs and activities.
Quotas for admission of disabled students are not allowed,
nor are pre-admission inquiries regarding an applicant's
disability, unless such inquiry is to determine what auxiliary
aids and/or services should be provided to ensure the applicant's
equal opportunity .
Tests which the institution uses must not discriminate against
students with disabilities. Tests must be selected and administered
so that the results for students with impaired sensory,
manual, speaking and/or information processing skills are
not distorted and so that the tests accurately measure the
student's achievement or knowledge level rather than his/her
disability. Thus, academic ability must be the sole basis
for participation in postsecondary education.
In order to ensure equal opportunity, the overall postsecondary
educational experience of a student with a disability must
be comparable to that of his/her non-disabled peers. This
may necessitate different treatment in some situations.
Postsecondary institutions must ensure that all programs
are accessible to disabled students and employees. The institution
is not required to make all classroom buildings physically
accessible. Accessibility can be achieved by rescheduling
classes to accessible buildings or by taking other steps
to ensure program accessibility. Thus, not all buildings
must be physically accessible, but all programs must be
Students with impaired sensory, manual, language or information
processing abilities must be provided with educational auxiliary
aids and services such as readers, taped textbooks, voice
synthesizers, assistance with completing forms, large print,
reading machines, manual communication interpreters, adapted
classroom equipment, and other similar educational services
or equipment. The institution cannot charge students with
disabilities for auxiliary aids or services regardless of
budgetary constraints. However, the institution can request
that the student seek benefits through other outside agencies
such as the state Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.
The institution also cannot impose rules which prohibit
the use of such aids in the classroom.
Modification of academic requirements may be necessary to
accommodate qualified students with disabilities. Modifications
may include changes in the length of time permitted for
the completion of degree requirements and the adaptation
of the manner in which courses are conducted or in the manner
in which learning is demonstrated or evaluated. The modification
of requirements essential to program instruction, academic
standards and licensing are not required under the law.
ACCESSIBILITY: THE KEY TO EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
Assurance of equal educational opportunity rests upon legal
foundations established by federal law, specifically the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 including Section 504, and the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. By federal law,
a person with a disability is any person who: 1) has a physical
or mental impairment; 2) has a record of such impairment;
or 3) 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.
Every student with a documented disability has the following
- Equal access to courses, programs, services, jobs,
activities, and facilities available through the college
- Reasonable and appropriate accommodations, academic
adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids determined on a case-by-case
- Appropriate confidentiality of all information pertaining
to his/her disability with the choice of whom to disclose
their disability to except as required by law.
- Information reasonably available in accessible formats.
A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment
to a course, program, service, job, activity, or facility
that enables a qualified student with a disability to have
an equal opportunity. An equal opportunity means an opportunity
to attain the same level of performance or to enjoy equal
benefits and privileges as are available to a similarly-situated
student without a disability. The college is obligated to
make a reasonable accommodation only to the known limitations
of an otherwise qualified disabled student.
Ron Vick, MA, LPC
Counselor / Academic Advisor
Int'l Student Advisor