Relevant Legislation

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Marymount University complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Sect. 504”) and with Title III of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and its 2008 Amendments (ADA/AA).

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires that people with disabilities be provided equal access to public programs and services.  According to this law, no otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities shall, solely by reason of their disabilities, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in these programs.

ADA Amendments Act of 2008

The ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) became effective on January 1, 2009.  The Act makes important changes to the definition of the term “disability” by rejecting several Supreme Court decisions and portions of the EEOC’s ADA regulations.  The Amendments Act expands the protections of the original ADA to include more individuals with less severe impairments.

The Act retains the ADA’s basic definition of a disability as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; having a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such impairment.

ADAAA has expanded the definition of “major life activities” to include:

  • Caring for oneself
  • Walking
  • Learning
  • Concentrating
  • Communicating
  • Lifting
  • Sleeping
  • The operation of a major bodily function
  • Performing manual tasks
  • Breathing
  • Standing
  • Reading
  • Thinking
  • Working
  • Eating
  • Speaking
  • Seeing
  • Hearing
  • Bending

The ADAAA also adds a new major life activity category – “major bodily functions” – which includes, but is not limited to:

  • Functions of the immune system
  • Cell growth
  • Digestive, bladder, and bowel functions
  • Respiratory and circulatory functions

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act was designed to ensure that any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance does not discriminate on the basis of disability for otherwise qualified persons.

A “person with a disability” is defined as any person who:

  • Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,
  • Has record of such an impairment, or
  • Is regarded as having such an impairment. Major life activities include walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks.

Any post secondary program receiving federal financial assistance has been required to provide accommodations for qualified people with disabilities since this Act was established.  Many post-secondary institutions comply with Section 504, since many post-secondary institutions, including private insitutions, receive federal funds of some type.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

To ensure that the federal government would not perpetuate the discrimination that the vocational rehabilitation system was designed to mitigate, Congress enacted civil rights protections for people with disabilities.

On August 7, 1998, Congress amended Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (19 U.S.C. 794d) to expand the federal government’s responsibility to provide electronic and information technology which is accessible to, and usable by, people with disabilities. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act specifically covers federal agencies but has an impact on the greater public.

Section 508 requires federal departments or agencies that develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology, to ensure that the electronic and information technology is accessible. Section 508 requires that individuals with disabilities seeking information or services from a federal department or agency, have access to, and use of, information and data comparable to that provided to individuals without disabilities. Visual images should also be audio-described so that people who are blind or deaf have equal access.