Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to public entities, including state and community colleges. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act applies to programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. Virtually all colleges and universities receive federal financial assistance, and “all of the operations of” a school are subject to Section 504. Most of the case law has focused on admission and expulsion, academic adjustments, auxiliary aids and services, and testing. See 34 C.F.R. 104.44. However, schools are also required to ensure nondiscrimination in nonacademic services — housing, health insurance, counseling, financial aid, physical education 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 cannot discriminate in the employment of students on campus. In short, school placement offices must make their services available to all students in a nondiscriminatory manner.➢ Nonacademic services. In providing physical education classes, a school may not discriminate 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 opportunity to participate in these activities. However, 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 placement 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 disabled students with similar interests and abilities. However, schools may provide factual information to students with disabilities about licensing and certification requirements.➢ Social organizations. Finally, a school that provides significant assistance to fraternities, sororities, 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, captioning 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‐graduation work.Nonacademic services are important for all students. The key is communication between school staff and students with disabilities to ensure that all the opportunities available for nondisabled students are available for students with disabilities.About the authorMarc Charmatz, Esq., is a senior attorney at the National Association of the Deaf Law and Advocacy Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disability Compliance for Higher Education – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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