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The U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by Federal agencies, in programs receiving Federal financial assistance, in Federal employment, and in the employment practices of Federal contractors. The standards for determining employment discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act are the same as those used in title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
There are four key sections of the Act.
Section 501 requires affirmative action and nondiscrimination in employment by Federal agencies of the executive branch. To obtain more information or to file a complaint, employees should contact their agency's Equal Employment Opportunity Office.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act created and extended civil rights to people with disabilities. Section 504 has provided opportunities for children and adults with disabilities in education, employment and various other settings. It allows for reasonable accommodations such as special study area and assistance as necessary for each student. 
Each Federal agency has its own set of section 504 regulations that apply to its own programs. Agencies that provide Federal financial assistance also have section 504 regulations covering entities that receive Federal aid. Requirements common to these regulations include reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities; program accessibility; effective communication with people who have hearing or vision disabilities; and accessible new construction and alterations. Each agency is responsible for enforcing its own regulations. Section 504 may also be enforced through private lawsuits. It is not necessary to file a complaint with a Federal agency or to receive a "right-to-sue" letter before going to court.
Section 508 establishes requirements for electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the Federal government. Section 508 requires Federal electronic and information technology to be accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public.
An accessible information technology system is one that can be operated in a variety of ways and does not rely on a single sense or ability of the user. For example, a system that provides output only in visual format may not be accessible to people with visual impairments and a system that provides output only in audio format may not be accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Some individuals with disabilities may need accessibility-related software or peripheral devices in order to use systems that comply with Section 508.
List of Court Cases Involving the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- Switzer, Jacqueline Vaughn. Disabled Rights: American Disability Policy and the Fight for Equality. Georgetown University Press, 2003.
- OCR Senior Staff Memoranda, “Guidance on the Application of Section 504 to Noneducational Programs of Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance,” January 3, 1990.
- Lynch, William, "The Application of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act to the Internet: Proper E-Planning Prevents Poor E-Performance," 12 CommLaw Conspectus: Journal of Communications Law and Policy 245 (2004).
- Section 504 at Section 508.gov
- Frequently Asked Questions About Section 504 and the Education of Children with Disabilities US Dept of Education
- Overview of Section 504 Section504idea.org
- Section 504 National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
- Section 504 and Food Allergy Primer Primer on Section 504 and Food Allergy in Schools
- Fairbanks North Star Borough School District Section 504 Handbook Filled with forms and outlines and excellent information.
- University of Iowa Section 504 Training
- Cybertelecom :: Section 504 implications for the provision of IT
- Section 504 Brief A brief arguing that emotional distress damages are available under Section 504.
- 504 Democratic Club of New York City
- * Section 504: Accommodations & After-School Programs Robert Crabtree
- * Non-Academic and Extracurricular Services under Section 504 Phil Stinson, Esq.
- * Beyond the Classroom, iPAT University of Iowade:Rehabilitation Act (1973)
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