Overview of Section 504
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is major federal legislation that impacts entities that receive federal funding. It is civil rights legislation for persons with disabilities, designed to prevent any form of discrimination based on disabilities. Individuals with disabilities, who are otherwise qualified are protected.
Section 504 states that:
No otherwise qualified individual with a disability. . . shall soley by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Definition of Disability under Section 504
Under Section 504, a person is considered to have a disability if that person (29 U.S.C. Sec.706(8)):
- has a physical or mental impairment which *substancially limits one or more of such person's major life activities,
- has a record of such an impairment, or
- is regarded as having such an impairment
The Act defines a physical or mental impairment as:
A) 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; cardiovasular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or
B) any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities
*substantial is defined as a significant restriction as to the condition, manner, or duration under which an individual can perform a particular major life activity as compared to the condition, manner, or duration under which the average person in the general population can perform that same major life activity.
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