Federal Laws Related to College Students
Disability Law is a Civil Right
Northeast is committed to ensuring that students with disabilities civil rights are protected by upholding the principles contained in both the spirit as well as the letter of laws. We prohibit all discrimination on the basis of disability, and we provide appropriate academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, services, and reasonable accommodations to qualified students in all programs and activities which include accessing college websites and online instructional material. If you experience barriers to participating in programs, activities, and services to include Northeast websites, please contact Disability Services office.
Northeast is committed to incorporating accessibility standards to help ensure individuals do not experience barriers accessing to their educational material and or participating in activities and services.
Three reasons are:
- It is the right thing to do.
- It is the smart thing to do.
- It is the law.
Federal Laws and Legal Precedents Pertinent to Post-Secondary Education
These laws were designed to prevent discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Section 504(a) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 7(20), shall, solely by reason of her or 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 prohibits exclusion of qualified students with disabilities from any course or area of concentration based on a disability. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits state and local governments from discriminating based on disability.
Definitions pertaining to the law
Impairment: Section 504 regulatory provision at 34 C.F.R. 104.3(j)(2)(i) defines a physical or mental impairment as any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
Major life activity: Major life activities include the major bodily functions such as normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, immune system, and reproductive functions, as well as other major life activities such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, standing, lifting, bending, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, communicating, eating, sleeping, working, concentrating, and thinking.
At the postsecondary level, the recipient must provide students with proper academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services that are necessary to afford an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to take part in a school's program. Recipients do not have to adjust or provide aids or services that would result in a fundamental alteration of a recipient's program or impose an undue burden. CFR 104.44
Title II-2.8000 of the ADA defines the term "qualified"
To be an individual protected by Title II, the individual must be a "qualified" individual with a disability. In college, a qualified student with a disability is a student who meets the academic and technical standards requisite for admission or participation in the institution's educational programs or activities.
Process includes the disability services staff
- working with the student to clearly identify the manifestations of the student's disability, as well as those accommodations that have been effective for the student in the past and engage the student in seeking reasonable accommodation.
- meeting with those in the academic program to get a clear understanding of course requirements and expectations regarding the participation and performance of students seeking input as to how we can reasonably accommodate; and
- consulting with external disability and/or academic experts in the field to address any gaps in knowledge regarding the nature of the disability and/or the range of academic adjustments, auxiliary aids and services that might be available.
If the student is unable to meet academic and technical standards of a program of study, then the student is not qualified to be accepted into the program. “Disability Services staff will assist student with exploring other career options, seeking assistance from campus and community-based resources.”
Some examples of discriminatory conduct by a college or university prohibited by Section 504 include:
- Denying a qualified individual with a disability admission because of her/his disability.
- Excluding a qualified student with a disability "from any course, course of study, or other part of its education program or activity" because of her/his disability; and
- Counseling a qualified student with a disability toward more restrictive career goals than other students.
Disability harassment under Section 504 and Title I is intimidation or abusive behavior toward a student based on disability that creates a hostile environment by interfering with or denying a student's participation in or receipt of benefits, services, or opportunities in the institution's program. Harassing conduct may take many forms, to include verbal acts and insults, as well as nonverbal behavior, such as graphic and written statements, or conduct that is physically threatening, harmful, or humiliating.
Northeast may not discriminate in the recruitment, admission, educational process, or treatment of students. Students who have self-identified, provided satisfactory documentation of disability, and requested reasonable accommodations are entitled to receive reasonable accommodations, appropriate academic adjustments, or auxiliary aids and services that enable them to take part in and benefit from all educational programs and activities.
Federal law specifies that colleges and universities may not...limit the number of students with disabilities admitted, make preadmission inquiries as to whether or not an applicant has a disability, use admission tests or criteria that inadequately measure the academic qualifications of qualified students with disabilities because required accommodations were not made, exclude a qualified student with a disability from any course of study, or establish rules and policies that may adversely affect qualified students with disabilities.
- An instructor belittles and criticizes a student for using accommodations, commenting repeatedly that he does not see how the student will function in the real world if he must choose accommodations. As a result, the student feels very discouraged, feels like he must forgo using his accommodations and as result, performance in class and learning is negatively affected.
- Students repeatedly reference a student with an intellectual disability, as retard to classmates and the comments are heard by the instructors and no effective action is taken to stop the comments.
The Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) offers these Program Domains, Standards, and Performance Indicators as a guide for expanding the vision of disability equity at the postsecondary level. The Standards reflect an aspirational goal for disability resource professionals in addressing systemic and individual barriers for disabled people in all aspects of higher education. They provide campus administrators' understanding of the breadth of disability resource work, direct the development and evaluation of disability resource offices, and improve the preparation of professional personnel. These Standards may also inform audiences outside higher education, the greater community served by Northeast, about the nature and scope of disability resource management in the postsecondary setting. In line with higher education efforts towards diversity, equity and inclusion, the overarching goal of disability resources is the mitigation of barriers to access for disabled individuals in all institutional programs, services, and activities.
Disability resource personnel should:
- Provide leadership and collaboration in framing a commitment to disability access and equity as an integral aspect of their institution's culture (Domain 1),
- Advise and educate the campus community about disability and inclusive practice (Domain 2),
- Provide services, strategies, and accommodations to mitigate the barriers faced by individual disabled people (Domain 3),
- Administer office operations guided by a mission and with access to appropriate resource (Domain 4) and
- Enhance their professional knowledge and skills (Domain 5)
The five broad Domains provide an organizational framework for the Program Standards that relate to the work of disability resource offices. Beneath each Program Standard are multiple Performance Indicators that provide a non-exhaustive list of how each Standard can be implemented. Collectively, the Domains, Standards, and Performance Indicators provide benchmarks for colleges and universities related to the work of disability resource offices.