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Legislation

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990

General rule: The ADA precludes an employer from discriminating against a "qualified person with a disability" who can "perform the essential functions of the job" with or without a reasonable accommodation.

This act enables individuals with disabilities to function more independently than ever in the mainstream of society and is hailed as the "Emancipation Proclamation of the Disabled."

The IDEA Amendments of 1997, Public Law 105-17

IDEA was again amended and reauthorized in 1997. These amendments were meant to strengthen and improve IDEA to better educate children with disabilities and enable them to achieve a quality education. The Amendments sought to achieve this quality education by:

  • Strengthening the role of parents in eligibility and placement decisions
  • Ensuring access to the general curriculum and reforms by including in the IEP an increased emphasis upon participation of children and youth with disabilities in the general education classroom and in the general curriculum, with appropriate aides and services
  • Ensuring the participation of children and youth with disabilities in state and district wide assessment (testing) programs
  • Giving increased attention to racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity to prevent inappropriate identification and mislabeling
  • Ensuring schools are safe and conducive to learning
  • Encouraging parents and educators to work out their differences by using non-adversarial means such as mediation
  • The addition of transition planning in the IEP beginning at age 14
  • Discipline of children with disabilities

Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Civil Rights Law)

This important civil rights legislation provides that "no otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States... shall, solely by reason of his or her handicap, 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."

Prohibits the discrimination of any individual with a disability solely on the basis of the disability if you receive any federal funds. It designates that:

  1. Students with disabilities must be afforded an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from all primary, secondary and post-secondary education programs and activities. That includes any course, course of study, or activity offered.
  2. Rules, which limit students with disabilities' participation in the program or activity, may not be imposed upon the students. (For example, prohibiting tape recorders and calculators in classrooms or guide dogs in school or campus buildings.)
  3. Academic requirements must be modified on a case-by-case basis, to afford qualified students with disabilities an equal educational opportunity.