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Disability and the Law

Student walking with cane.

Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 covers institutions receiving federal funds. It prohibits institutions from discrimination against "otherwise qualified" individual with disabilities. A qualified individual with a disability is a person who, with reasonable accommodations, can perform the essential functions of a job or school curriculum. An individual with a disability is defined as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or regarded as having such impairment.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) supports the same standards as Section 504, but extends to both public and private facilities, services, programs, activities, telecommunications, transportation, and other miscellaneous provisions. The ADA defines a qualified individual with a disability as an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable modifications to rules, policies or practices, the removal of architectural communication, or transportation barriers, or the provision of auxiliary aids and services, meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or the participation in programs or activities provided by a public entity.