Some Universities have had a problem implementing section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which was amended to include equal access to electronic and information technology. This can be especially problematic to institutions that receive federal subsidies since they are lawfully required to be 504 compliant. Fortunately, there are diversability service providers like Applied Development LLC that specialize in helping institutions create an inclusive working or learning environment to follow 504 compliance.
What Universities Need to Know about 504 Compliance
With digital learning playing an essential role during and after the pandemic, digital accessibility has become vital to classrooms. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act requires all learning institutions to provide equal academic opportunities to everyone, including students with disabilities. According to the Department of U.S Health and Human Services, a disabled person is anyone who has a mental or physical impairment that impedes a major life function.
Section 504 also requires all universities and colleges that receive federal funding to provide reasonable accommodation to disabled students and ensure they do not exclude them from facilities and learning programs. Reasonable accommodation means students with disabilities can freely access learning environments, digital content, applications, websites, and digital documents with reasonable adjustments. Educational facilities should also extend these accommodations to qualified employees, provided that doing so wouldn’t pose undue hardships.
How to Implement/ Become 504 Compliant
Reasonable accommodation can seem a bit arbitrary when it comes to execution, especially if one isn’t aware of the requirements. Here are some modifications the university can make to be 504 compliant:
Modified forms of exam
Universities should alter the form of exams if the existing procedures put disabled students at a disadvantage. The modifications could include a professor reading the exam orally, invigilated individually, typing it, or dictating it depending on the student’s documented disability. However, the university can make an exception to test a particular skill.
Assistance in course study
Provide services like note-takers for students with hearing impairments or deafness, learning disabilities, or orthopedic impairments. Readers for students with visual impairments or blindness and qualified interpreters for students with all kinds of disabilities. Also, in this regard, computer software programs or other assistive technology devices should be permitted to assist in study skills and test-taking.
Course exemptions and modifications
On a case-by-case basis, grant modifications, waivers, or substitutes of courses in significant courses or degree requirements. However, universities can make an exception if it demonstrates that the alteration would affect essential parts of the program.
Universities should provide additional time to complete coursework or tests to students whose documentation calls explicitly for that accommodation.
Accessibility of classrooms
The instructor should change the classroom location or remove architectural barriers provide access to students with mobility impairment.
Applied Development Offers Full-Time 504 Compliance Services
Applied Development can assist your university meet 504 compliance requirements. Our team of knowledgeable accessibility professionals has a lot of experience and information that will tremendously help your agency whether you are looking into 504 compliance to improve your user experience or you have a legal need to comply.
We champion the rights of people of all abilities to work and communicate effectively. Additionally, we provide direct compliance services, including reader services, CART transcription, and sign language interpretation.
Call us at 410.571.4016 or contact us online to learn how we can help your university.