Both the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and its predecessor, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, make it unlawful for post-secondary educational institutions to discriminate against students on the basis of disability. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, applies to institutions (such as Villanova University) receiving federal financial assistance.
No otherwise qualified individual with a disability…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.
Who is protected?
In order to be entitled to the protections of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, students or applicants must establish that they are a “qualified individual with a disability.” Individuals must show both that a disability exists and that they can meet the requirements of the program, with or without “reasonable accommodation.”
Requirements under the ADA and Section 504 for Academic Accommodations
Students have the responsibility to self-identify by providing notice of their disability and the required documentation to the University. The university is then required to provide “appropriate academic accommodations” based on the nature of the disability and the academic environment.