Disability Services at UMass Amherst

Laws Pertaining to People With Disabilities

The following laws provide legal protection against discrimination in post-secondary educational settings to students with disabilities:

Disability Rights

Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973

"No otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities in the United States…shall solely by reason of his 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.”

Definition of Terms: A person with a disability is an individual with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. An individual is considered to be a person with a disability if s/he (1) has a disability, (2) has a record of a disability, (3) is perceived by others as having a disability.

Provisions of Section 504: The University of Massachusetts-Amherst, as a public institution of higher education which receives federal assistance, is legally bound to prohibit discrimination in the recruitment process, the admission process, and the educational process of students with disabilities. Students with documented disabilities are entitled to receive appropriate modifications, appropriate academic adjustments or auxiliary aids that will enable them to participate in and have the opportunity to benefit from all educational programs and activities at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Under the provisions of Section 504, the University of Massachusetts Amherst may not:

limit the number of otherwise qualified students with disabilities admitted

make pre-admission inquiries as to whether an applicant is disabled

exclude an otherwise qualified student with a disability from any course of study

provide less financial assistance to students with disabilities than is provided to non-disabled students, or limit eligibility for scholarships on the basis of disability

counsel students with disabilities into more restrictive career paths than are recommended to students who are non-disabled

measure student achievement using modes that adversely discriminate against a student with a disability or

establish rules and policies that have the effect of limiting participation of students with disabilities in educational programs or activities.

Subpart E of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 contains specific information regarding post-secondary education.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990

The purpose of the Americans with Disabilities Act is to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The ADA applies to all institutions of higher education regardless of receipt of federal funds. Provisions of the ADA: Title I covers nondiscrimination in employment activities. Title II prohibits state and local governments from discriminating against people in their programs and activities. The law requires bus and rail transportation to be available to passengers with disabilities. Where fixed route and rail bus service is provided, paratransit service must also be provided. Title III covers the accessibility and availability of programs, goods, and services provided to the public by private entities. Title IV requires that telecommunication services be made accessible to people who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing or who have speech impairments. It has specific reference to the development of telecommunications relay systems and closed-captioning technology. Title V contains miscellaneous provisions that apply to all of the other titles. It is Title V that states that the illegal use of drugs is not a covered disability under the ADA.

Massachusetts State Law: Chapter 15A: Section 30. Developmentally disabled residents; waiver of standardized college entrance aptitude tests

No resident of the commonwealth who has been diagnosed as being developmentally disabled, including but not limited to, having dyslexia or other specific language disabilites, by any evaluation procedure prescribed by chapter seventy-one B, or equivalent testing, shall be required to take any standardized college entrance aptitude test to gain admittance to any public institution of higher education in the commonwealth. Admission shall be determined by all other relevant factors excluding standardized achievement testing. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any person solely because of blindness or visual impairment, regardless of age at which such individual became blind or visually-impaired.