Legal Obligation for Accommodations

The Federal Law

There are two federal laws that protect students with disabilities that protects them from discrimination and ensure they have equal access to all aspects of university life.

  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA): "prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation." "A public entity shall make reasonable modifications in policies 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."
  • Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973: "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... Program or activity is defined as... a college, university, or other post-secondary institution, or a public system of higher education."

The DRC works as a compliance office to make sure:

    • Students with disabilities must meet the same admission standards as other students.
    • Once admitted, students are entitled to the same rights to all programs, facilities, and technology including websites and instructional technology.
    • Students are eligible to receive reasonable accommodations that relate to their disability.
    • Students have the right to confidentiality regarding disability-related information.

What This Means for Faculty

Because our University receives federal funding, we are required by law to provide access to students with disabilities. Thus, if a student cannot access their learning environment or participate meaningfully, our University is subject to an OCR (Office of Civil Rights) complaint which may result in a lawsuit. 

Ultimately, the accessibility of each individual course is the responsibility of the instructor (e.g. making textbooks, class handouts, PowerPoints, and videos accessible). 

If you have more questions about legal obligations and responsibilities please contact us.