Related Laws

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, often called the Rehab Act, prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by federal agencies, in programs receiving federal financial assistance, in federal employment, and in employment practices of federal contractors. Section 504 of the Rehab Act states that "no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under" any program or activity that either gets federal financial help or is conducted by an administrative agency or the United States Postal Service. There is a right to reasonable modification under Section 504. Individuals who meet the definition of disability are covered, and the definition is the same as it is for the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Section 504 applies to any entity that received federal financial assistance. This includes a lot more places than you might think about when you first hear that. Of course, it covers nearly all government entities. It also covers nearly all colleges, universities, and trade schools. Many private schools and day care centers are also covered, as are most health care facilities.

Each federal agency has its own set of Section 504 regulations that apply to its own programs. Agencies that provide federal financial assistance also have Section 504 regulations covering entities that get federal aid. Those entities that get federal financial help must provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, program accessibility, effective communication with people who have hearing or vision disabilities, and accessible new construction and alterations. Each agency enforces its own regulations. Section 504 can also be enforced by people with disabilities who have been discriminated against through private lawsuits. you do not have to file a complaint or get a "right to sue" letter before going to court.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law that requires public schools to provide all eligible children with disabilities a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment appropriate to the child's individual needs. IDEA only applies to public schools, and to public school systems that end at grade 12.

All students with disabilities are not eligible for special education and related services under IDEA, as there is a list of eligibility categories. In addition to having a disability that fits one of these categories, the child must, by reason of the disability, need special education and related services in order to receive a free appropriate public education (sometimes referred to as FAPE). The eligibility categories are: orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, auditory impairment, visual impairment, deaf-blindness, intellectual disability, emotional disturbance, learning disability, speech impairment, autism, multiple disabilities, and traumatic brain injury. IDEA requires the school to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each eligible student. IDEA also sets out the procedures that must be followed as the IEP is developed. Some of these include that the IEP must be developed by a team of knowledgeable persons and the IEP must be reviewed at least annually.

For more information please see our Education page.

Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) was passed by Congress in 1986. In 1990, the Department of Transportation published implementing regulations, which have been updated numerous times, with the most recent update, as of this writing, taking effect in 2009. All U.S. air carriers' operations and aircraft are covered by the regulations. All foreign air carriers' flights that begin or end at U.S. airports and the aircraft being used on these flights are covered by the regulations.

Under the ACAA, an individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment, that, on a permanent or temporary basis, substantially limits one or more major life activity, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. The big difference between the ACAA definition of a disability and the ADA definition of a disability is that the ACAA covers even temporary disabilities. Airlines cannot refuse a passenger just because that passenger has a disability. Also, airlines cannot limit the number of people with disabilities on a particular flight. The only exceptions are if the individual with a disbaility would endanger the health or safety of other passengers, violate a Federal Aviation Adminitration (FAA) safety rule, or if the place has fewer than 19 seats and there are no lifts or boarding chairs available that can adapt to the space limitations of such a small plane.

An air carrier must not require any kind of proof as a condition for the provision of transporation, except in some very limited circumstances. If a person is traveling in a stretcher or incubator, needs medical oxygen during a flight, or if there is reasonable doubt that the person can complete the flight safely without requiring extraordinary medical assistance during the flight, then the air carrier may require a written statement from a physician saying that the passenger is capable of completing the flight without requiring extraordinary assistance during the flight. It must be dated within ten days of the initial departing flight. The air carrier may also require such a written statement if the passenger has a communicable disease that could pose a direct threat to the health or safety to others on the flight. In that case, the physician's statement should say that the disease or infection would not, under present conditions in the patient's case, be communicable to other people during the normal course of a flight. It should also state what precautions should be taken to prevent transmission and it must be written within ten days of the flight for which it is presented.

A carrier must not require a passenger with a disability to give advance notice that s/he will be traveling on a flight. However, if the passenger with a disability will require certain specific services, then advance notice must be provided.

Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act

The Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) gives the Attorney General the power to investigate conditions of confinement of state and local government institutions such as prisons, jails, detention centers, juvenile correction facilities, government operated nursing homes, and institutions for individuals who have psychiatric or developmental disabilities. It allows the Attorney General to uncover and correct serious problems that put the health and safety of people in these institutions in danger. The Attorney General does not have the power under CRIPA to investigate isolated incidents or to represent individual institutionalized persons, althout there may be a private right of action under Title II of the ADA. If the incidents are widespread, than the Attorney General can sue on behalf of the government, but not on behalf of an individual. The Attorney General can sue in civil court if there is reasonable cause to believe that conditions are "egregious or flagrant," that they are causing "grievous harm" to the residents or detainees, and that they are part of a "pattern or practice" of denying residents the full enjoyment of constitutional or federal rights.