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What Are Your Rights?

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (amended 1977) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. Section 504 specifically refers to all colleges and universities and mandates that they be free from discrimination in recruitment, admissions and treatment of students. The college must also make reasonable accommodations in the academic program to ensure maximum participation by all students with handicapping conditions.

The term "handicapping conditions" includes such conditions as speech, hearing, visual and orthopedic impairments, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, mental retardation, emotional illness, and specific learning disabilities such as perceptual handicaps, dyslexia, minimal brain dysfunction and developmental aphasia. A person who is addicted to drugs but is not actively using drugs is considered a person with a disability and is protected by law. Physical or mental impairments do not constitute a handicap, however, unless they are severe enough to substantially limit one or more of the major life functions. A copy of the law can be obtained in its entirety from the Section 504 Compliance Officer, the College Associate Dean for Educational Resources, (631) 548-3707.

Under Section 504, the student who has a disability is assured of an equitable chance to compete in college. The post-secondary institution's responsibility is to provide accommodations that will enable students with disabilities to take part in the typical activities and services that are open to its students. These accommodations do not ensure success, nor do they take the form of privileges. Accommodations are implemented so that a person's academic prerogative is not impeded by barriers which have been either consciously or unconsciously presented to the person as a result of his or her disability.

If a student with a disability feels that his or her rights have been violated, and the situation cannot be resolved between the parties involved, several avenues of recourse are available on campus. First, the student's disability services counselor and/or the Dean of Student Services should be contacted for an in-depth discussion of the situation. If the situation can still not be resolved and it is felt that the student's rights have been violated, established grievance procedures should be followed to investigate and/or remedy the problem. For information about this procedure, students should contact the Section 504 Compliance Officer (i.e., the College Associate Dean for Educational Resources).

For further information, see: