The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), patterned after Section 504, also protects qualified persons with disabilities from discrimination in many areas of postsecondary education including admission, academics and research. However, the ADA applies to all postsecondary educational programs even if such programs do not receive federal financial assistance.
Who is protected by the ADA
Any individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity (including academics); has a record of having such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment is protected by the law.
Requirements Under the ADA
Given legal mandates under the ADA, postsecondary institutions must make reasonable accommodations in order to provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in courses, programs, and activities. This includes extracurricular activities. These accommodations can be in the form of academic adjustments or modifications such as extended time for test taking or completing course work; substitution of specific courses to meet degree requirements; modification of test taking or performance evaluations so as not to discriminate against a person’s sensory, speaking or motor impairments, unless that is what is being tested. Accommodations can also take the shape of auxiliary aids and services such as qualified sign language interpreters, note takers, readers, braille, large print, and electronic formats of print materials, and adaptive equipment.
By familiarizing yourself with such federal disability laws as the ADA and providing a positive, welcoming and encouraging classroom experience for your students with disabilities, you can begin to create an environment where differences are not viewed as negative impediments and where individual strengths are recognized. As an instructor or faculty member, you are an integral part of the University of Florida’s efforts to comply with these laws and to promote equal opportunities for all students.
**DISCLAIMER: The goal of this webpage is to provide a general overview of major disability federal statutes, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, and is intended to provide only general, nonspecific legal information. This website and these articles are not legal advice and are not intended as legal advice.
Adapted from: American Psychological Association- DART Toolkit II: Legal Issues-ADA Basics