Accessibility and Education
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- Sec 504
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Educational institutions can be required to make their services accessible to individuals with disabilities under different laws.
- Local and state universities fall under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Educational institutions that receive federal funding, including K-12, colleges, and universities, fall under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
- Public schools fall under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
The Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education has issued several letters expressing the view that these schools must, to the extent that they offer information services, make these services accessible to the disabled.
ADA: Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (Title II) requires a public college to take appropriate steps to ensure that communications with persons with disabilities "are as effective as communications with others" [28 C.F.R. §§ 35.160(a)]. OCR has repeatedly held that the term "communications" in this context means the transfer of information, including (but not limited to) the verbal presentation of a lecture, the printed text of a book, and the resources of the Internet.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act states
No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 705(20) of this title, 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 or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency or by the United States Postal Service.
[29 U.S.C. § 794d] Educational institutions are significant recipients of Federal financial assistance. In order to continue to receive this funding, their programs must accommodate individuals with disabilities. (Of course, this obligation is far broader that education, obligating all recipients of Federal financial assistance. Individual agencies likely have their own regulations regarding compliance).
IDEA : The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.; 34 C.F.R. Part 300] "requires public schools to make available to all eligible children with disabilities a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment appropriate for their individual needs." [DOJ Guide] Arguably, much like Section 504, where Information Technology is a part of the regular curriculum of the schools, then is much be a part of the appropriate public education of special needs children as well.
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