The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
How does the Americans with Disabilities Act Impact Higher Education?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 provides comprehensive civil rights protection and is designed
to remove barriers which prevent persons with disabilities from accessing the same educational and employment
opportunities as persons without disabilities. The law also provides access to public accommodations, state and
local government services, transportation, and telecommunications. The DR
also prohibits discrimination against a qualified individual with a disability with regard to admission to educational
institutions or vocational training programs (public or private); employee compensation; job training;and other terms,
conditions and privileges of employment.
Definition of a Disability
An "individual with a disability" is someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits
one or more major life activities. A person is considered to be a person with a disability if he/she has the disability,
has a record of the disability, or is regarded as having the disability.
- Physical or mental impairment...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, genito-urinary,
hemic and lymphatic, skin and endocrine; "mental impairment" means any psychological disorder, such
as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
- Substantially limits...means unable to perform a major life activity or significantly restricted as
to the condition, manner, or duration under which a major life activity can be performed, in comparison to the
average person or to most people; the availability of some mitigating measure (such as a hearing aid for someone
with a hearing loss that brings hearing acuity within normal limits) is not to be considered when determining if
the disability substantially limits the individual.
- Major life activity...means functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking,
seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.
Note: Individuals who are current illegal users of drugs are not protected under the ADA. The legal use of a controlled substance under medical perspective is permitted. Addiction is
considered a disability. A person who is addicted to drugs, but is not actively using drugs, is considered a person with a
disability and is protected by the law. Alcohol is not considered a controlled substance.
No Requirement for Citizenship
The Americans with Disabilities Act covers all persons with disabilities in the United States, whether or not they are
citizens and without regard to racial or ethnic origin.
Reasonable accommodation is the provision of an auxiliary aid, or modification to the course or program which will allow
access to the job duties, the educational process, program and degree, or activity. The Americans with Disabilities Act
requires an institution of higher education to provide reasonable accommodations to a qualified individual with a disability
provided that accommodation does not create an undue hardship. Some examples of reasonable accommodation are making existing
facilities readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities; flexible timeline for program completion; acquisition
or modification of equipment or devices; appropriate adjustment or modification of examinations or policies; provision of
qualified readers, note takers, and/or signed language interpreters; provision of print formats and so on.
Rights and Responsibilities
Section 504 of The 1973 Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 continue to provide
direction and guidance to the University as it reaches new levels of access in all areas. As such, both the University
and student have rights and responsibilities.
Institutional Rights and Responsibilities
The University of Kansas (KU) through Disability Resources
has the right and responsibility to:
- Maintain the University academic standards.
- Request qualifying disability documentation in order to verify eligibility
for disability accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids.
- Discuss students' eligibility with diagnosing professionals given signed
- Select from among equally effective/appropriate accommodations, adjustments,
and/or auxiliary aids in consultation with the student.
- Deny requests for accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary
aids when disability documentation does not identify a specific disability,
fails to verify the need for the requested services, or is not provided in
a timely manner.
- Deny requests for accommodations, adjustment, and/or auxiliary aids that
are inappropriate or unreasonable based on disability documentation including
Pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others;
Constitute a substantial change or alteration of an essential course
element/program standard, or
- Pose undue financial or administrative burden on the University.
Student Rights and Responsibilities
Every qualified student with a disability has the right to:
- Equal access to educational and co-curricular programs, services, activities, and facilities
available through KU.
- Reasonable and effective accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary
aids as determined on a case-by-case basis.
- Maintain confidentiality regarding disability information including the
right to choose to whom the disclosure of disability is made except as required
- Receive information in reasonably available in accessible formats. (i.e.,
meets request deadlines to ensure availability)
Every student with a disability has the responsibility to:
- Meet KUs qualifications including essential technical, academic, and
- Identify as an individual with a disability and request accommodations in
a timely manner
- Provide documentation from an appropriate professional source verifying
the nature of the disability, functional limitations, and the rationale for
specific accommodations being recommended.
- Follow specific procedures for obtaining reasonable and appropriate accommodations,
academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids as outlined.