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Serving Students at CSUF | Provisions of Section 504

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 are major pieces of federal legislation that prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities. The Rehabilitation Act states that:

… no otherwise qualified handicapped person shall on the basis of handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any academic ... or other postsecondary education program receiving federal financial assistance.

Under these laws, a qualified person with a disability is defined as "one who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the … educational program or activity." They specify that individuals with hidden disabilities (psychological and learning disabilities) have the same legal entitlements as adults with physical or sensory disabilities. Section 504 of the Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of handicap against persons in programs or activities receiving or benefiting from federal assistance. Thus, in a university setting, Section 504 mandates "reasonable accommodation" for students with learning and psychological disabilities via such methods as taped textbooks and alternative testing arrangements in the same way that it mandates curb cuts and ramped entrances to classroom buildings for students with physical disabilities or sign language interpreters for students who are deaf.

Serving Students at CSUF

California State University, Fullerton is a public institution of higher education that receives federal assistance. Thus, the faculty, staff and administrators of CSUF are legally bound to prohibit discrimination in the recruitment process, the admissions process and the educational process of students with disabilities. Students with documented disabilities are entitled to receive approved modifications, academic accommodations or auxiliary aids, which will enable them to participate in and benefit from all educational programs and activities on the CSUF campus.

Under the provisions ofSection 504, CSUF may not:

• Limit the number of qualified students with disabilities admitted;

• Make pre-admission inquiries as to whether or not an applicant is disabled;

• Use admissions tests or criteria that inadequately measure the academic qualifications of students with disabilities because special provisions were not made for them;

• Exclude a qualified student with a disability from any course of study;

• Limit eligibility to a student with a disability for financial assistance or otherwise discriminate in administering scholarships, fellowships, internships, or assistantships on the basis of handicap;

• Counsel a student with a disability toward a more restrictive career;

• Measure student achievement using modes that adversely discriminate against a student with a disability; or

• Establish rules and policies that may adversely affect students with disabilities.

Academic adjustments may include adaptations in the way specific courses are conducted, the use of auxiliary equipment and support staff, and modifications in academic requirements. The university has the flexibility to select the specific aids and services it provides, as long as they are effective. Such aids and services are prescribed by the Office of Disability Support Services on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the student who will use them.

Thus, under the provisions of Section 504, one or more of the following services may be required to accommodate the educational needs of students with disabilities:

• Services such as readers or notetakers;

• Modifications or substitutions of courses, major fields of study or degree requirements on a case-by-case basis (Such accommodations need not be made if it can be demonstrated that the modifications requested would substantially alter essential elements of the course or program.);

• Allowance of extra time to complete examinations;

• A quiet, distraction-free testing environment;

• Examinations that are individually proctored, read orally, transcribed into alternative formats, dictated, or typed/word processed;

• The use of adaptive equipment, i.e., computer, calculator.

The purpose of these accommodations is to provide educational equity, not advantage. Faculty members are not required to, nor are they responsible for modifying their grading procedures or course standards for students with disabilities.

 

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