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, as amended in 2008.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act of 2008 are Federal statutes that govern the rights of individuals with disabilities.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) states that no “otherwise qualified person” with a disability can be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity within an institution that receives federal financial aid.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (as amended, 2008) defines a person with a disability as any individual who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; (2) has a record of such an impairment; or (3) is perceived by others as having such an impairment. For further information, please see the ADA Amendments of 2008.
Taken together, Section 504 and the ADA (and ADAAA) require institutions of higher education to provide equal access to educational opportunities to otherwise qualified persons with disabilities.