Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights law that is intended to protect disabled individuals from discrimination based on their disability status in any program or activity that receives financial assistance from the Federal government. As a result, government agencies, K-12 schools, and post secondary entities (e.g. state colleges and universities) must follow the letter of this act.
In particular, education environments that use the Internet as a method of teaching must recognize that this law applies to them. The courts have made it clear that after-the-fact accommodations will not be tolerated.
To clarify the distinctions between Section 504, Section 508, and the ADA, let it be noted that Section 504 outlines the civil rights for individuals with disabilities in the context of programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance. The ADA expanded the application beyond programs receiving funding from Federal sources. Section 508 created specific regulations that are applied to accessible web design. Therefore, Section 508 provides direction to the context of the law emphasized by Section 504.
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