The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination and mandate the availability of accommodations to ameliorate the impact of the disability to afford equal access to education.
Students must meet the statutory definition of disability under federal law. In order to determine whether an individual is entitled to these protections, the Health and Wellness Center and the Learning and Teaching Center require evidence verifying that the individual’s condition fits the definition of “disability.”
The ADA defines disability as:
- a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual
- a record of having such an impairment, or
- being regarded as having such an impairment.
A condition is considered a disability if it prevents or substantially limits the ability to perform a major life activity or significantly restricts the condition, manner, or duration in performing the major life activity as compared to the average person. The analysis of “substantially limits” is a comparative term to the average person in severity, impact, and duration. Generally, a condition must be substantially limiting for more than several months. A condition is not a disability if it results in mild limitations.
ADA evidence serves two primary purposes:
- To establish the right to protection from discrimination. Non-discrimination is an assurance that individuals with disabilities will not be excluded or provided lesser access to programs and activities based on assumptions rooted in stereotype or perception of ability that are not based in fact. Non-discrimination also provides freedom from harassment based on perceptions of disability. Evidence needed for protection from discrimination based on disability without a request for accommodation can be quite brief. A diagnostic statement from an appropriate professional or a past history or recognition as a person with a disability could suffice as the basis for protection from discrimination.
- To determine the accommodations to which the individual may be entitled. Reasonable accommodations include modifications to policy, procedure, or practice and/or the provision of auxiliary aids and services that are designed to provide equal access to programs and services for qualified individuals with disabilities. Accommodations are reasonable when they do not fundamentally alter the nature of a program or service and do not represent an undue financial or administrative burden.
To request appropriate accommodations, a student should contact the Assistant Dean of Faculty for Learning Support. More information can be found on the Services for Students with Disabilities website.
Lake Forest College does not discriminate on the basis of a disability against any otherwise qualified person by denying him or her participation in, or the benefits of, any College program or activity.
Section 504 requires the adoption of a grievance procedure to deal with allegations of discrimination on the basis of a disability. If a member of the student body feels there is reason to believe that discrimination because of disability has occurred under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a grievance should be handled in the following manner:
- Individuals with a grievance should notify the President’s Office of their grievances, in writing. It is recommended to do so within seven days of the alleged incident.
- Failing resolution, individuals should follow appropriate grievance procedures established for sex discrimination.