Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Assurance of equal educational opportunity rests upon legal foundations established by federal law, specifically the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 including Section 504. It states in part that “No otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities in the United States…shall solely by reason of his 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.” Section 504 [29 USC 794] Sec 504

By federal law, a person with a disability is any person who:

  1. has a physical or mental impairment;
  2. has a record of such impairment; or
  3. is regarded as having such an impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities such as self-care, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing or learning.

Section 504 Implementing Regulations [34 CFR Part 104.44(a)]

“A recipient to which this subpart applies shall make such modifications to its academic requirements as are necessary to insure that such requirements do not discriminate or have the effect of discriminating, on the basis of handicap, against a qualified handicapped applicant or student. Academic requirements that the recipient can demonstrate are essential to the program of instruction being pursued by such student…will not be regarded as discriminatory within the meaning of this section.”

Implications for the University of Connecticut

As a public institution, which receives federal financial assistance, the University of Connecticut may not discriminate in the recruitment, admission, or treatment of students. Students with documented disabilities are entitled to modifications, accommodations, or auxiliary aids, which will enable them to participate in and benefit from all postsecondary educational programs and activities. The University of Connecticut must make such changes to ensure that the academic program is accessible to the greatest extent possible by all students with disabilities.

Under the provisions of Section 504, the University of Connecticut may not:

  • limit the number of students with disabilities admitted;
  • make preadmission inquiries as to whether or not an applicant is disabled;
  • use admissions tests or criteria that inadequately measure the academic qualifications of disabled students;
  • exclude a qualified student with a disability from any course of study;
  • limit eligibility to a student with a disability for financial assistance or otherwise discriminate in administering scholarships, fellowships, internships, or assistantships on the basis of disability;
  • counsel a student with a disability toward a more restrictive career;
  • establish rules and policies that may adversely affect students with disabilities.