Applicable Laws for Students with Disabiliites

Two federal statutes govern the provision of disability services in higher education: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (link will open in a new window) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) (link will open in a new window). Unlike the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), which provides a free and appropriate education to individuals with disabilities in the K-12 school system, these statutes are civil rights laws that provide access and prevent discrimination for individuals with disabilities.

(1) Section 504 applies to any institution receiving federal financial assistance.

(2) The ADA has three titles that apply to employment opportunities, state and local government and public access. Title II applies to state and local governments, including public colleges and universities, such as Empire State College. Both acts call for the provision of auxiliary aids to grant equal access. The ADA stipulates that reasonable accommodations that do not fundamentally alter the program requirements or standards are to be provided unless they cause an undue burden.

In addition to meeting the provisions of the federal laws, Empire State College complies with the provisions of the New York Human Rights Law (link will open in a new window). This law follows the federal mandate to afford individuals with disabilities equal access to programs, events and facilities in New York state. The New York state law also provides individuals with temporary disabilities, such as broken limbs or other short-term medical conditions, the right to request reasonable accommodations to obtain equal access to programs, events and facilities for the duration of the illness.

In addition to the federal and state mandates, New York City has enacted civil rights legislation that offers protection on the basis of a disability. The New York City Human Rights law (link will open in a new window; PDF file; Adobe Acrobat Reader is needed) is similar to the ADA and the NYS human rights laws; however, the New York City law allows that individuals with disabilities are protected when the disability is known or should have been known.

Return to Student Handbook or continue to Students Rights and Responsibilities.