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Legal Module

Institution and Faculty Responsibilities

Under the regulations of Section 504, institutions of higher education and individual faculty members are required to make "academic adjustments and reasonable modifications" (34 C.F.R. §104.44(a)) and provide "auxiliary aids and services" (34 C.F.R. §104.44(d)) to students with disabilities. Accommodations and academic adjustments such as providing a note-taker, a sign language interpreter, or extra time on an exam, are determined according to the individual needs of the student. The purpose of accommodations is to provide the same opportunity to achieve in higher education programs that other students have by removing a specific barrier that is created by a particular disability (Scott, 2002). Students with disabilities must meet the same academic standards that other students are held to. Reasonable accommodations afford them equal opportunity to do so.

Many accommodations do not fundamentally alter courses or programs. Some of the most common accommodations include:

  • Extended testing time
  • Note-taker
  • Books on tape
  • Distraction-reduced test settings for exams

Course substitutions may be appropriate for some individual students, although academic supports such as tutoring, note-takers, test accommodations, and study skills training may reduce the need for course substitutions for many students with disabilities (Scott, 2002). Providing these types of academic accommodations does not mean that students with disabilities are guaranteed to achieve the same results as other students. Rather, "reasonable" accommodations are intended to give students with disabilities an equal opportunity to achieve the same results that other students have the opportunity to achieve. In some situations where a college or university can demonstrate that a particular requirement is essential to a program, such as fine motor control as a requirement for a program in dentistry, an accommodation is not considered "reasonable" (Rothstein, 2002).


References

Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as Amended, Section 504, P. L. 93-112, 29 U.S.C. §794 (1998).

Rothstein, L. F. (2002). Judicial intent and legal precedents. In L. C. Brinckerhoff, J. M. McGuire, & S. F. Shaw (Eds.), Postsecondary education and transition for students with learning disabilities (pp.71-106). Austin, TX: PRO-ED.

Scott, S. S. (2002). The dynamic process of providing accommodations. In L. C. Brinckerhoff, J. M. McGuire, & S. F. Shaw (Eds.), Postsecondary education and transition for students with learning disabilities (pp.295-332). Austin, TX: PRO-ED.

Permission is granted to copy this document for educational purposes; however, please acknowledge your source using the following citation:

UDI Online Project. (2010). Legal Module. Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, Storrs. http://www.udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/legal-module