Disability Laws

About Disability Laws 

There are many disability rights laws within the United States which promote the rights of individuals with disabilities in almost every aspect of everyday life.  A Guide to Disability Rights Laws  provides a detailed guide of those laws, their application, and regulatory agency.

The Office of Disability Resources is responsible for adherence to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, amended 2008 (ADA)

These are federal civil rights laws that protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of a disability and promote the full inclusion of individuals with disabilities in programs, services and activities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a non-discrmination law which protects qualified individuals with disabilities.  Title I of the the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, social activities, and other privileges of employment.

What is a disability?

According to the ADA disability means, a person who: 

  • Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; 
  • Has a record of an impairment (such as cancer which is in remission); or 
  • Regarded as having an impairment (such as a person who has severe scars).

Major Life Activities: include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.

Major Bodily Functions: a major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Mobility disabilities such as those which require the use of a mobility device (cane, wheelchair, walker, etc.)
  • Cognitive disorders (ex. learning disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, etc.)
  • Attentional disorders
  • Low vision or blindness
  • Chronic health conditions (ie, Diabetes, Migraines, Cerebral Palsy, HIV, etc)
  • Mental health conditions (ie, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, etc.)
  • Deafness or hearing loss
  • Pregnancy related conditions (ie; pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, etc.)

What does having a disability mean?

Meeting the definition of a disability establishes protections from discrimination based on disability status. 

Individuals with disabilities are intended to have the same opportunities as everyone else. This includes:

  • employment opportunities,
  • the ability to purchase goods and use services, and 
  • to participate in programs, services and activities.

Additionally, if appropriate and necessary individuals may also be eligible for reasonable workplace accommodations, modifications to policies and procedures, appropriate academic adjustments, auxiliary aids and services.