Adequate Educational Services - Right to Reasonable Accommodations

Persons with disabilities have specific rights with respect to educational services.
These include the same general rights under state and federal law not be discriminated against and to receive a reasonable accommodation if that is required to access the service (education)1.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination based on disability in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. The U.S. Department of Education gives grants of financial assistance to schools and colleges and to certain other entities, including vocational rehabilitation programs. Most schools, colleges and universities and receive some funding from the federal government, and therefore Section 504 applies. If you are enrolled or are thinking of enrolling in such a program, you may ask for a reasonable accommodation that is necessary for you to access the service. You must ask—recipients of federal funds are not obligated to seek you out or to offer assistance that you do not request. All recipients of federal funds must have a Section 504 officer . You make your request of that person. (Frequently, that person has other responsibilities besides being the Section 504 officer.)1

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on disability in public accommodations1. Public accommodations are entities that are open to the public, such as hospitals, stores, doctors’ and lawyers’ offices and educational institutions. They need not be publicly funded to be public accommodations. 1 Many educational entities are covered by both Section 504 and the ADA, and frequently the same employee who is the Section 504 officer is the ADA compliance officer as well.

Under these two Acts as well as state anti discrimination statutes, students with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations if such accommodations are necessary for them to access the educational services offered. However, adult students must ask for such accommodation. For adult students, there is no obligation for the entity to search out eligible students and offer accommodation.

Many colleges and universities had disability rights offices on campus. Some are easily accessible in person or on line (UCONN has a Center for Students with Disabilities.)2 others simply fold the legal responsibilities into the dean’s or student services offices. Many educational entities are covered by both Section 504 and the ADA, and frequently the same employee who is the Section 504 officer is the ADA compliance officer as well. This is a link to a list of disability rights offices at colleges and universities in Connecticut. Not surprisingly, the quality of the services and the adherence to the law varies among institutions.

Students are entitled to auxiliary aids and services under Section 504, as well. United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.

In elementary and secondary schools, teachers and school specialists may have arranged support services for students with disabilities. However, in postsecondary schools, the students themselves must identify the need for an auxiliary aid and give adequate notice of the need. The student's notification should be provided to the appropriate representative of the college who, depending upon the nature and scope of the request, could be the school's Section 504 or ADA coordinator, an appropriate dean, a faculty advisor, or a professor. Unlike elementary or secondary schools, colleges may ask the student, in response to a request for auxiliary aids, to provide supporting diagnostic test results and professional prescriptions for auxiliary aids. A college also may obtain its own professional determination of whether specific requested auxiliary aids are necessary.

If you or someone you know is being denied reasonable accommodation to access educational rights, call CLRP.