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Laws Pertaining to Accommodations

The rights of students with disabilities at the university level are protected under Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. Although some Northwestern students were served in previous schooling under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) of 2004, IDEIA and its special education provisions do not apply to university-level students.

Summary of Section 504's Prohibitions

"No otherwise qualified [sic] individual with a disability in the United States shall, solely by reason of his/her [sic] disability, 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."

Section 504

Under the provisions of Section 504, Northwestern University may not:

Summary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)

ADA extends anti-discrimination legislation to all institutions of higher education regardless of whether or not the institution receives federal funds. The ADA provides comprehensive civil rights protection to individuals with disabilities in the areas of employment, public accommodations, state and local governmental services, and telecommunications. The act contains five titles; Titles II through V apply specifically to students who attend post-secondary educational institutions:
Title I
Title II
Title III
Title IV
Title V

ADA Amendments Act of 2008

On September 25, 2008, the President signed the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 ("ADA Amendments Act" or "Act"). The Act emphasizes that the definition of disability should be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA and generally shall not require extensive analysis.

The Act makes important changes to the definition of the term "disability" by rejecting the holdings in several Supreme Court decisions and portions of EEOC's ADA regulations. The effect of these changes is to make it easier for an individual seeking protection under the ADA to establish that they have a disability within the meaning of the ADA.