The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights statute that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. There are four sections of the law: employment, government, public accommodation, and telecommunications. The ADA provides additional protection for persons with disabilities in conjunction with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The ADA is designed to remove barriers that prevent qualified individuals with disabilities from enjoying the same opportunities available to a person without disabilities.

A student requesting accommodations should:

  • Have a disability covered by the law;
  • Be qualified with or without a reasonable accommodation;
  • Identify himself or herself as having a covered liability; and
  • Request an accommodation

The institution is obligated to provide only reasonable accommodations; fundamental alterations to college programs are not required. The specific obligations of postsecondary institutions, with regard to students with disabilities, include but are not limited to:

  • All programs and activities must be offered in the most integrated setting appropriate.
  • Academic requirements must be modified, on a case-by-case basis, to afford qualified students with disabilities and applicants an equal educational opportunity.
  • A professor may not impose upon students with disabilities rules that have the effect of limiting their participation in the educational activities; for example, prohibiting tape recorders or service dogs in the classroom.
  • Accommodations must be provided in a timely manner.

ADA Definition of a Disability
A person with a disability is any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities and has a medical record of such impairment.