As a student with a disability, do you know your rights?
Knowing your legal rights and responsibilities will increase your chances of success in college. It’s important to understand the obligations of colleges and of students enrolled in colleges. By understanding these obligations, you will know what you need to do and what the college is required to do for you to have an equal opportunity for success. Following is a description of laws and how they pertain to you as a college student with a disability.
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
- The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA)
- Section 508 Standards
- Non-Discrimination and Affirmative Action
This civil rights statute is designed to prevent discrimination against persons with disabilities, as amended in 1990. It provides that:
No otherwise qualified individual with disabilities in the United States shall, solely by reason of his/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.
This law requires that postsecondary schools be prepared to make appropriate accommodations and reasonable modifications to their college’s procedures and practices, so that students with disabilities can fully participate in the same programs and activities that are available to students without disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is also a civil rights law. It helps to implement and enforce Section 504 and outlines additional protections. While Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that public institutions cannot discriminate on the basis of disability if they receive federal funds, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states that with or without federal funds, public institutions cannot discriminate on the basis of disability. Private colleges and universities are covered under the ADA, unless they are completely owned and operated by religious organizations.
The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) intends to carry out the ADA’s objectives of providing “a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination” and “clear, strong, consistent, enforceable standards addressing discrimination” by reinstating a broad scope of protection to be available under the ADA.
The ADAAA clarifies and expands the definition of “disability” under the law:
A. DISABILITY — The term ‘disability’ means, with respect to an individual—
- a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual;
- a record of such an impairment; or
- being regarded as having such an impairment.
Additionally, there is clarification regarding “major life activities” and “impairment”:
B. Major Life Activities
- In general, major life activities include but are not limited to caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.
- Major bodily functions, a major life activity, also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.
C. Regarded as having such an impairment:
- An individual meets the requirement of ‘being regarded as having such an impairment’ if the individual establishes that he or she has been subjected to an action prohibited under this Act because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity.
- Shall not apply to impairments that are transitory and minor. A transitory impairment is an impairment with an actual or expected duration of 6 months or less.
- The term ‘substantially limits’ shall be interpreted consistently with the findings and purposes of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.
- An impairment that substantially limits one major life activity need not limit other major life activities in order to be considered a disability.
- An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.
- The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures such as—
- medical supplies
- equipment or appliances
- low-vision devices (which do not include ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses)
- prosthetics including limbs and devices
- hearing aids and cochlear implants or other implantable hearing devices
- mobility devices or oxygen therapy equipment and supplies
- use of assistive technology
- reasonable accommodations or auxiliary aids or services
- learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications
Section 508 is a federal law that requires agencies to provide individuals with disabilities access to electronic and information technology and data comparable to those who do not have disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. Specific criteria cover software applications and operating systems, web-based information and applications, computers, telecommunications products, video and multi-media, and self-contained closed products (see Section 508).
It is the policy of the University of Hawai‘i to comply with Federal and State laws which prohibit discrimination in University programs and activities including but not necessarily limited to the following laws which cover students and applicants for admission to the University:
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended (race, color, national origin)
- Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (age)
- Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (sex, blindness, severely impaired vision)
- To comply with Federal and State laws which mandate affirmative action and/or prohibit discrimination in employment (including but not limited to hiring, firing, upgrading), salaries, benefits, training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended (race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy)
- Executive Order 11246 as amended (race, color, national origin, religion, and sex)
- Equal Pay Act of 1963 as amended by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (sex)
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ages 40-70)
- Section 402 of the Vietnam Era Veteran’s Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (veteran’s status)
- Section 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (disability)
- Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, Chapter 76, 78, 378 (race, sex, sexual orientation, age, religion, color, ancestry, political affiliation, disability, marital status, arrest and court record)
The UH Colleges strive to promote full realization of equal opportunity through a positive, continuing program including Titles I-IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) P.L. 101-336. Accordingly, vocational education opportunities will be offered without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, or disability. American citizens or immigrants with limited English proficiency skills will not be denied admission to vocational education programs.
In addition, employees and applicants for employment are protected under Title IX and Section 504.
As an integral part of its Policy on Nondiscrimination & Affirmative Action, the Office of the President, University of Hawai‘i, hereby declares and reaffirms its commitment to the University’s pursuit of equal education and employment opportunity and further declares that any harassment of students or employees on the basis of sex is prohibited and will not be tolerated.
Complaints of this nature are addressed by:
Interim Executive Assistant to the Chancellor
The individual who is designated to coordinate the UH Maui College nondiscrimination and affirmative action programs are:
Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs
UH Maui College
Students, employees, or applicants for admission or employment who believe. That they have been discriminated against on the basis of race, sex, age, religion, color, ancestry, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, marital status, veteran’s status, or arrest and court record may file a complaint with:
The EEO/AA coordinator will explain the available avenues of recourse and direct the person to the appropriate person or office. The process of addressing allegations of discrimination are described in the Administrative Procedure A9-920 2210 UH Community College Procedures and Guidelines, Relating to Complaints of Discrimination and in campus Section 504/ADA Grievance Procedure.
Students may also file complaints of discrimination with the:
Office of Civil Rights
915 Second Avenue, Rm. 3310
Seattle, WA 98174-1099