Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973

RehabActof1973The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is the first major piece of legislation in the United States which attempts to provide people with physical and cognitive disabilities protections against discrimination.  This legislation provides a wide range of services for people with disabilities.  It was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on September 26, 1973.

The U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in Federal agencies’ programs, programs that receive Federal financial funding, Federal employment, and the employment practices of Federal contractors.

Additionally, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal law that provides a formula for grant programs relating to:

  • vocational rehabilitation;
  • supported employment;
  • independent living; and
  • client assistance.

The Rehabilitation Act also provides for research activities carried out by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research and by the National Council on Disability.

Summaries of the sections of the The Rehabilitation Act of 1973:

Section 501

Requires affirmative actions and prohibits employment discrimination by federal agencies in the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government.  This includes equal access to training and promotions and to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.

Section 502

Created the United States Access Board which ensures compliance with standards of the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA), develops and maintains guidelines of said standards, and promotes access in all segments of society.

Section 503

Requires affirmative action and prohibits employment discrimination by federal government contractors and subcontractors with contracts of more than $10,000.

Section 504

“No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States…shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency or by the United States Postal Service.”  29 U.S.C. § 794(a).

Each entity receiving federal funding must have its own Section 504 regulations applying to its unique program.  Common requirements include:

  • reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities;
  • program accessibility;
  • effective communication with people who have hearing or vision disabilities; and
  • accessible new construction and renovations.

Section 508

Establishes requirements for electronic and information technology developed, maintained, acquired, or used by the federal government.  This federal electronic and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities, including federal employees and the general public, and be able to be operated in multiple ways and does not require a single sense or ability of the user to be utilized.

Wikipedia Entry

Ed.gov – The Rehabilitation Act

The Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1973, as amended

ADA Q & A: The Rehabilitation Act and ADA Connection


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