Passed by Congress in 1973, this section states that
"No otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities in the United States…. .shall, solely by reason of 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 Terms
A person with a disability is an individual with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. An individual is considered to be a person with a disability if he/she (1) has a disability, (2) has a history of a disability, or (3) is perceived by others as having a disability.
Application to Higher Education
The Section 504 regulation applies to all recipients of federal funding, including those institutions receiving funds from the U.S. Department of Education. Enforcement of Section 504 for these institutions rests with the Department's Office for Civil Rights.
In regard to post-secondary schools' obligations, Section 504 goes on to state that:
A recipient…shall take such steps as are necessary to ensure that no handicapped student is denied the benefits of, excluded from participation in, or otherwise subjected to discrimination under the education program or activity operated by the recipient because of the absence of educational auxiliary aids for students with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills.
Still in effect, despite the 1990 passage of the ADA, Section 504 contains (in Subpart E) more specific information regarding post-secondary education than the ADA