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University Disability Support Services|Student Educational Opportunity

Legal Terms and Definitions

These are a few terms and definitions that are helpful in understanding the legal environment that concerns you, a student with a disability.

Please feel free to talk to any of the staff members in UDSS if you have any questions.

The ADA is:

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Public Law 101-336. It was enacted July 26, 1990 under President Bush's administration. It was designed to provide/ensure civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities in the areas of employment, public accommodations, state and local government services, and telecommunications.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 says:

"No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States ...shall, solely by reason of his handicap, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

Disability (with respect to an individual) means:

A. having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual;
B. having a record of such an impairment; or
C. being regarded as having such an impairment

Physical or mental impairment is:

Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: Neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin and endocrine; any mental or psychological disorder such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. Includes, but isn't limited to, orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, HIV disease (symptomatic or asymptotic), tuberculosis, drug addiction, and alcoholism.  (Current, illegal drug abuse is not a protected condition).

Has a record of such an impairment means:

The person has a history of, or has been misclassified as having, a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

Is regarded as having an impairment means:

The person has a physical or mental impairment that does not substantially limit major life activities, but who is treated by one or more public entities as if they are substantially limited in major life activities.  This phrase also refers to people who have a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits major life activities only as a result of the attitudes of others toward this impairment.  Finally, a person may be regarded as having an impairment and therefore be protected from discrimination even if they do not have an impairment but are treated by a public entity as having such an impairment.

Major life activities are:

Functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, thinking, concentrating, and interacting with others.

Qualified person with a disability is:

One who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the institution's programs and activities.

Accessible means:

Easy to approach, enter, operate, participate in, and/or use safely and with dignity by a person with a disability (i.e. site, facility, work environment, service, or program).

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