University of Houston-Victoria

Disability Services

Disability Laws

What laws cover a student with a disability at the post-secondary level?

Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – Section 504

  • guarantees the rights of all students to equal educational access
  • prohibits discrimination on the basis of physical or psychological disabilities
  • provides that no individuals with a disability shall be denied benefits of, excluded from participation in, or subjected to discrimination in co-curricular activities because of the absence of auxiliary aids.

Americans with Disabilities ADA – 1990

  • guaranteed equal access to employment, public services, transportation, and education

ADAAA – 2008 –

  • expanded the definition of disability as 1) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; 2) a record (or past history) of such an impairment; 3) being regarded as having a disability
  • definition of disability should be interpreted in favor of broad coverage of individuals
  • The term “substantially limits” requires a lower degree of functional limitation than the standard previously applied by the courts . An impairment does not need to prevent or severely or significantly restrict a major life activity to be considered “substantially limiting.” Nonetheless, not every impairment will constitute a disability.
  • The term “substantially limits” is to be construed broadly in favor of expansive coverage, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA.
  • The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity requires an individualized assessment, as was true prior to the ADAAA.
  • With one exception (“ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses”), the determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures, such as medication or hearing aids.
  • An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.
  • In keeping with Congress’s direction that the primary focus of the ADA is on whether discrimination occurred, the determination of disability should not require extensive analysis.