DRC Eligibility

Eligibility: Who Qualifies

How does the Americans with Disabilities Act effect Higher Education?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990 provides comprehensive Civil Rights protection designed to remove barriers preventing people with disabilities from accessing the same educational and employment opportunities as persons without disabilities. The law also mandates access to public accommodations, state and local government services, transportation, and telecommunications. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against qualified people with a disabilities with regard to admission to educational institutions or vocational training programs (public or private); employee compensation; job training; and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment.

Definition of a Disability

An "individual with a disability" is a person with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. A person is considered to be an individual with a disability if he/she has the disability, has a record of the disability, or is regarded as having the disability.

  • Physical or mental impairment...any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genito-urinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin and endocrine; mental impairment means any psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
  • Substantially limits...unable to perform a major life activity or significantly restricted as to the condition, manner, or duration under which a major life activity can be performed, in comparison to the average person or to most people; the availability of some mitigating measure (such as a hearing aid for someone with a hearing loss that brings hearing acuity within normal limits) is not to be considered when determining if the disability substantially limits the individual.
  • Major life activity...functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

Note: Individuals who are current illegal users of drugs are not protected under the ADA. The legal use of a controlled substance under medical perspective is permitted. Addiction is considered a disability. A person who is addicted to drugs, but is not actively using drugs, is considered a person with a disability and is protected by the law. Alcohol is not considered a controlled substance.

No Requirement for Citizenship

The Americans with Disabilities Act covers all persons with disabilities in the United States, regardless of citizenship and without regard to racial or ethnic origin.

Reasonable Accommodation

Reasonable accommodation is the provision of an auxiliary aid, and/or course or program modification(s) allowing access to the job duties, the educational process, program and degree, or activity. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires an institution of higher education to provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities, unless doing so creates an undue hardship. Some examples of reasonable accommodations are making existing facilities readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities; providing flexible timelines for program completion; acquiring or modifying equipment or devices; appropriately adjusting or modifying examinations or policies; providing qualified readers, note takers, and/or signed language interpreters; providing print formats, etc.


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