Opening Doors for Work

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act provides equal access to education, employment, programs, health care, and housing. Its purpose is full participation by individuals with disabilities in programs or organizations which receive federal funds.

Who is covered under Section 504?

A person with a disability as defined by Section 504 is an individual who:

  • has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity;
  • has a record of these impairments; or
  • is someone that is regarded as having an impairment.

What rights are covered under Section 504?

Access to employment, program accessibility, health care, and housing, in organizations that receive federal funds. The organization may not:

  • deny qualified people the chance to take part in or benefit from federally funded programs, services, or other benefits;
  • use physical barriers to deny access to programs, services or benefits;
  • deny work opportunities, including hiring, promotion, training and benefits.

What programs must follow Section 504?

All programs receiving federal funds are required to follow Section 504. This includes any program or activity carried out by:

  • a federal, state or local government agency;
  • colleges, universities, and other public training institutions;
  • a public school system preschool through high school; or
  • any business that receives federal funds.

College or applied technology centers

Under the provisions of Section 504, a college or university may not:

  • limit the number of students with disabilities;
  • make not ask if an applicant has a disability;
  • exclude a student with a disability from any course, based on his or her disability;
  • counsel students with disabilities differently than other students, and
  • may not set unreasonable rules (such as not allowing tape recorders or other accommodations) that may negatively affect the performance of students with disabilities.

For further information visit the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights.