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What Do Colleges Owe College students With Disabilities? Feds Plan to Replace Laws


The U.S. Division of Schooling plans to replace laws on colleges’ obligations underneath Part 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a significant federal legislation that prohibits discrimination in opposition to college students with disabilities.

The announcement comes as colleges’ capability to fulfill the wants of scholars with disabilities throughout distant studying—and to make up for any progress misplaced as a result of lapses in companies—have been a main focus through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Schooling Division introduced its intent Friday to replace the laws, outlining the method for public remark 45 years after the laws had been first revealed.

“Whereas the world has undergone huge adjustments since 1977, the Division’s Part 504 laws have remained, with few exceptions, unaltered,” Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon stated in an announcement.

The company didn’t specify what adjustments it will think about, however stated in an announcement that it wished to “strengthen and shield the rights” of scholars, incorporating the voices of individuals with disabilities within the course of.

What this civil rights legislation requires

Part 504 is a civil rights legislation that requires colleges to supply a free acceptable public training—or FAPE—to college students with a broad vary of bodily, emotional, developmental, and mental disabilities, addressing their wants by particular person plans that define lodging. Such lodging might embody further time for assessments, a change in classroom seating, modified homework assignments, or the usage of particular applied sciences to assist college students with processing points.

Part 504 differs from the People with Disabilities Schooling Act, underneath which colleges create individualized teaching programs that define companies for college kids with a extra slim record of disabilities that features dyslexia, autism, and deafness or blindness. In lots of instances, college students with disabilities are protected by each legal guidelines.

Advocates for college kids with disabilities and their households have stated the method of securing lodging at college might be tough and complicated.

They’ve additionally complained that colleges haven’t moved shortly sufficient to deal with the necessity for compensatory companies—companies that tackle misplaced progress throughout lapses in lodging—as they enter pandemic restoration.

Plans to replace the Part 504 laws got here every week after the Schooling Division introduced a decision with Los Angeles colleges after if discovered fault with that district’s particular training choices through the pandemic and its plans to evaluate the necessity for compensatory companies as a part of its restoration. That settlement heartened advocates who’ve pushed for change.

Directions for submitting feedback on adjustments that might be made to Part 504 laws are right here.



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