Introduction and Overview of Relevant Laws
Rachel Buday, MAT
Coordinator of Disability Services
The Office of Disability Services serves all undergraduate and graduate Wheelock College students with disabilities. Wheelock College is committed to providing its students with equal access to its academic programs and other College programs and opportunities. Students with documented disabilities should meet with the Office of Disability Services prior to the start of the semester. After reviewing a student's documentation, staff will conduct an intake meeting with the student in order to decide if he or she is eligible for any accommodations. Accommodations provide students with disabilities equal access to curriculum.
To gain access to accommodations through Disability Services, a student must:
- Have a documented disability;
- Apply and be accepted for admission to Wheelock College through the regular admissions process;
- Provide current and comprehensive documentation of a temporary or permanent disability that requires accommodation; and
- Schedule an initial meeting with the Coordinator of Disability Services to discuss needs and register for services.
A student with a disability is entitled to equal access to College services and programs. Two laws protect students with disabilities in post-secondary education.
Section 504, 29 U.S.C. §794,states:
No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States... shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Section 504 is a civil rights law. Its purpose is to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination for reasons related to their disabilities. It specifically applies to any program or activity offered by an institution receiving federal funds.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, as it applies to public entities, states:
Section 12132. Discrimination
Subject to the provisions of this subchapter, no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.
ADA broadened the agencies and businesses that must comply with the non-discrimination and accessibility provisions of the law.
The ADA defines a person with a disability, as an individual who:
- has a physical or mental impairment that "substantially limits . . . one or more . . . major life activities,"
- has a record of such impairment, or
- is regarded as having such an impairment.
Major life activities include reading, learning, writing, performing math calculations, walking, seeing, hearing, and speaking.