Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Public Law 93-112 and subsequent regulations) has several sections which deal specifically with academic accommodations. Part 104.43, Treatment of Students, states: "No qualified handicapped student shall, on the basis of handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any academic, research, occupational training, ...counseling, ...physical education, ... or other post-secondary education program or activity".
The regulations further state that students must be educated in the most integrated setting appropriate to the individual's needs. Part 104.44, Modification of Requirements, states that modifications must be made to academic requirements to ensure that they do not discriminate against a qualified student with a disability. Academic requirements which can be demonstrated to be essential to the program of instruction being pursued (i.e. to the degree) or to any directly related licensing requirement are not considered discriminatory. Modifications such as changes in the length of time permitted for the completion of degree requirements, substitution of specific courses required for the completion of degree requirements, and adaptation of the manner in which specific course are conducted may be necessary.
The requirements further state that tape recorders, guide dogs, braillers, interpreters, note takers, or other "aids or adaptations which may be necessary to provide equality of access may not be prohibited from the classroom." Course examinations or other evaluation must be provided by methods or in formats which will best ensure that the results of the evaluation represent the student's achievement in the course, rather than reflecting the impairment.
Finally, the regulations state that "auxiliary aids or adaptations must be provided to ensure participation of students with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills in classroom instruction or to ensure that such students are able to benefit from the instruction." These may include taped textbooks, readers, interpreters, note takers, typewritten transcripts, adapted equipment, or other effective methods of making classroom presentations accessible to the student. The institution has flexibility in choosing the methods by which the aids will be supplied and can opt to use resources already available through state vocational rehabilitation agencies, textbook taping services, etc. Within the classroom, partnering the student with a classmate for lab situations and using volunteer note takers, etc., are legitimate methods of making accommodation. It is not necessary to provide attendants, individually prescribed devices, readers for personal use or study, or other devices or services of a personal nature.
The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, signed by President Bush in July, is a civil rights act enlarging the scope of Section 504. It protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination by certain employers, by providers of public services (such as housing, transportation, communication), and by States, agencies, political subdivisions of States, or boards, commissions or other instrumentalities of States and political subdivisions. It provides legal resource whenever persons with disabilities are denied equal opportunity to gain the same benefit, obtain the same result, or reach the same level of achievement as individuals who are non-disabled in the most integrated setting appropriate to the individual's needs. Qualification standards, selection criteria, performance standards or eligibility criteria that exclude or deny services, programs, activities, benefits, job or other opportunities to an individual with a disability must have been demonstrated to be both necessary and substantially related to the ability of an individual to perform or participate or take advantage of the essential components of the particular program, activity, job, or other opportunity. These standards must be detailed in writing and available to the general public for viewing (Title II, ADA, Sec. 35:106).