Disability Accommodations and the Law

Who is an "individual with a disability" under Section 504 and The ADA?

An individual with a disability is someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. A major life activity means functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, learning, and working. 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. A qualified KU student with a disability is "one who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the educational program".

Why is it important to be aware of disability issues?

KU is mandated by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to make facilities, educational and co-curricular programs, campus activities and employment opportunities accessible to qualified individuals with disabilities. As such, all KU faculty and teaching staff need a working knowledge of the legal rights of qualified individuals with disabilities, the University's rights and responsibility to provide reasonable and effective accommodations.

Do faculty and teaching staff have a legal responsibility to accommodate qualified students with disabilities?

Yes. Individually, faculty and staff have a legal responsibility to make sure that each course, when viewed in its entirety, is accessible (i.e., insure nondiscrimination by creating equal access for qualified students with disabilities through the provision of reasonable and appropriate accommodations). Accessibility is essential and should be in the forefront of course and technological planning.

NOTE: The Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandate students' rights to accommodations and their right to file complaints (OCR) and/or lawsuits (ADA) against the University and instructors for financial reimbursement if these accommodations are not provided.

Is disability information confidential?

Yes. Disability information is confidential and should never be discussed or referred to in front of classmates or other individuals. When disclosing their disabilities, students expect that confidentiality will be maintained. Any information regarding the disability should be secured in a file that can only be accessed by those "with a need to know", e.g., a graduate assistant who may be responsible for providing actual accommodations.


The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, IOA@ku.edu, 1246 W. Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS, 66045, (785)864-6414, 711 TTY.