Relevant Accessibility Legislation

Student walks towards building on UNH campus

While making things accessible is an important thing to do to support all our community members, it is also a requirement. We are required to provide access to all aspects of the experience at UNH. This experience includes all of the courses we teach, the events and programs we hold, the information we share, the technology we purchase and use, and the workplaces that we create. We are required to consider accessibility in a wide variety of ways. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Architectural requirements  
  • Service animals and emotional support animals 
  • Equal access and participation  
    • Accommodations  
    • Auxiliary aids and services  
    • Technology  
    • Non-academic services 
  • Hiring and the workplace 

In other words, we must consider accessibility across all aspects of the university for all community members. (ADATA - Postsecondary Institutions and Students With Disabilities)

The Americans with Disabilities Act 

The ADA was initially enacted in 1990 as a comprehensive civil rights law to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities. The intent was that the law would apply to all facets of public life.  The current revision (Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act - ADAAA) continues to govern public life. Public life includes institutes of higher education under Title II and Title I. This legislation provides a range of definitions, and guides much of the work of SAS.  

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was a landmark law  which was enacted in 1973. It was one of the first pieces of civil rights legislation that specifically applied to people with disabilities. It  governs any program receiving federal funds, and, therefore, is applicable within higher education. 

Section 504 

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is a vital part of the Rehab Act as it relates to accessibility and disability. The act states:

No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 705 (20) of this title, shall, solely by reason of his or her 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. (US Department of Labor - Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973)

In short, it prohibits the discrimination of people with disabilities for anyone receiving federal assistance and higher education institutions fall within this scope.   

Section 508 

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act has a more specific focus. It requires that information and communication technology is accessible for people with disabilities.  

The Fair Housing Act 

The Fair Housing Act was enacted in 1968 as part of an expansion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and was subsequently amended in 1988. This act specifically, “protects people from discrimination when they are renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing-related activities. Additional protections apply to federally-assisted housing.” (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development - Housing Discrimination Under the Fair Housing ActDisability discrimination is one of the key areas addressed within the act.