DART Toolkit II: Legal Issues — Overview of Section 504

General Information

Man bikingSection 504 of the Rehabilitation Act states that “no qualified handicapped person shall, on the basis of handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity which receives Federal financial assistance” (34 C.F.R. Part 104.4). The major difference between Section 504 and the ADA is that the former only applies to entities that receive federal financial assistance whereas the ADA covers most institutions whether privately owned or assisted with state and/or federal funds. If a college or university is in compliance with Section 504, in most instances it is in compliance with the ADA. However to the extent that the ADA provides greater protections to individuals with disabilities, the college/university must comply with the ADA.

Entities Protected Under the Rehabilitation Act

All universities, colleges and other postsecondary institutions that receive funding from the Department of Education must comply with regulations of Section 504. Since most postsecondary institutions receive some federal funding (Leuchovius, 2004), most students with disabilities who attend are covered by this set of regulations, and most administrators and faculty are therefore responsible for complying with them.

Major Requirements Under the Rehabilitation Act

Academic adjustments are required to be provided for qualified students and applicants with disabilities to ensure that academic requirements do not have discriminating effects on those students. Auxiliary aids, which fall under academic adjustments, are supplemental resources for students with sensory, manual or speaking impairments.

Some examples of academic adjustments may include:

  • Audio-recorded texts

  • Interpreters or other effective methods of making orally delivered materials available to students with hearing impairments

  • Classroom equipment adapted for use by students with manual impairments

Examples of adjustments that are not required:

  • Personal attendants

  • Individually prescribed devices

  • Readers for personal use or study

  • Other devices or services of a personal nature

Leuchovius, D. (2004). ADA Q&A: The ADA, Section 504 & postsecondary education. Minneapolis, MN: The PACER Center. 

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 34 C.F.R. Part 104. (PDF, 306KB)

**DISCLAIMER: The goal of this webpage is to provide a general overview of major disability federal statutes, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, and is intended to provide only general, nonspecific legal information. This website and these articles are not legal advice and are not intended as legal advice.