Vol. 23, Iss. 8
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc., A Wiley Company
All rights reserved
Schools must provide nonacademic services
to students with disabilities
By Marc Charmatz, Esq.
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ap-
plies to public entities, including state and com-
munity colleges. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act applies to programs and
activities receiving federal ﬁ-
nancial assistance. Virtually
all colleges and universities
receive federal ﬁnancial assis-
tance, and “all of the opera-
tions of” a school are subject
to Section 504. Most of the
case law has focused on admission and expulsion,
academic adjustments, auxiliary aids and servic-
es, and testing. See 34 C.F.R. 104.44. However,
schools are also required to ensure nondiscrimina-
tion in nonacademic services — housing, health in-
surance, counseling, ﬁnancial aid, physical educa-
tion and athletics, recreation, transportation, and
extracurricular activities. See 34 C.F.R. 104.43.
➢ Housing. A college or university that provides
housing to nondisabled students must provide
comparable, convenient, and accessible housing
to students with disabilities at the same cost as to
others. See 34 C.F.R. 104.45. Further, such housing
must be available in sufﬁcient quantity and variety
so that the scope of the disabled students’ choice of
living accommodations is, as a whole, comparable
to that of nondisabled students.
➢ Financial and employment assistance to
students. A college or university may not provide less
ﬁnancial assistance to students with disabilities or
limit eligibility for assistance. See 34 C.F.R. 104.46.
Further, a school must ensure that its assistance
to any agency, organization, or person providing
employment opportunities must be made available
to students with disabilities. Similarly, schools can-
not discriminate in the employment of students on
campus. In short, school placement ofﬁces must
make their services available to all students in a
➢ Nonacademic services. In providing physi-
cal education classes, a school may not discrimi-
nate on the basis of disability. See 34 C.F.R.
104.47. This includes courses operated at the
intercollegiate, club, or intramural level so that
qualiﬁed students with disabilities have the op-
portunity to participate in these activities. How-
ever, a school may offer students with disabilities
physical education and athletic activities that are
separate or different only if no disabled student is
denied the opportunity to compete for teams or to
participate in courses that are
not separate or different.
➢ Counseling and place-
ment services. A school that
provides personal, academic, or
vocational counseling; guidance;
or placement services to students
shall provide these services in a
nondiscriminatory manner. See 34 C.F.R. 104.47.
Students with disabilities should not be counseled
to more restricted career objectives than non dis-
abled students with similar interests and abilities.
However, schools may provide factual information
to students with disabilities about licensing and
➢ Social organizations. Finally, a school that
provides signiﬁcant assistance to fraternities, so-
rorities, or similar organizations shall assure itself
that membership practices do not discriminate on
the basis of disability.
➢ What this means. School websites need to be
accessible for students with disabilities. Lawsuits
against state and local governments and public
accommodations have increased multifold over the
past few years.
• School stadiums and arenas (i.e., football,
basketball, and other sports) need to be accessible
for students with disabilities. For example, caption-
ing at these venues needs to be provided.
• Schools need to ensure that their campus
housing is accessible to students with disabilities.
Schools may need to modify dorm rooms and provide
visual alarm systems to ensure access.
• Schools need to provide physical education
opportunities for students with disabilities.
• Schools cannot discriminate in employing
students with disabilities on campus or restricting
employment opportunities for noncampus, post-
Nonacademic services are important for all
students. The key is communication between
school staff and students with disabilities to en-
sure that all the opportunities available for non-
disabled students are available for students with
About the author
Marc Charmatz, Esq., is a senior attorney
at the National Association of the Deaf Law
and Advocacy Center in Silver Spring, Mary-
land. He can be reached at mcharmatz@