Federal and State Laws and Statutes
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Section 12102 defines the term “disability”, with respect to an individual as (A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual; (B) a record of such an impairment; or (C) being regarded as having such an impairment. An impairment that substantially limits one major life activity need not limit other major life activities in order to be considered a disability and an impairment that is periodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active. The definitions cited in the ADA do not apply to impairments that are transitory and minor. A transitory impairment is one with an actual or expected duration of six months or less.
The ADA goes on to define “major life activities” to include, but not be limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. Additionally, a major life activity also includes the operation of a “major bodily function”, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.
The determination whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity is made without regard to the effects of improvements when measures are in place. Examples include: medication, low-vision devices, prosthetics, hearing aids and hearing devices, use of assistive technology, auxiliary aids or services, or learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications.
The ADA specifies an individual meets the requirement of “being regarded as having such an impairment” if the individual establishes that he or she has been subjected to an action prohibited under the ADA because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment, whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity.
Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990, amended 2008) and the Rehabilitation Act, Section 504 and 508 of 1973) means adult basic education programs agree to uphold the highest standards of non-discrimination. Programs should provide and/or post information for students concerning non-discrimination policies and requirements under federal and state disability laws. This information should include:
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, amended 2008 – civil rights legislation that prohibits employers, public and government agencies and organizations from discriminating on any basis against qualified individuals who have disabilities. The ADA was designed to remove the barriers that prevent individuals who have disabilities from enjoying the same opportunities that are available to people who do not have disabilities. The law requires that individuals who have disabilities have access to and be accommodated in employment, transportation, public facilities, state and local government activities and communications.
The Rehabilitation Act, Section 504 of 1973 as amended – civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination against persons who have disabilities in programs receiving or benefiting from federal funding, federal financial assistance, employed under federal contracts, or conducted by an Executive Agency or the Postal Service. Section 508 (1998) requires federal agencies to make electronic and information technology accessible to persons who have disabilities.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) replaces WIA and will be in effect for the next five years (2015-2020). The purpose of WIOA is to better align the workforce system with education and economic development in an effort to create a collective response to economic and labor market challenges on the national, state and local levels. Title IV – Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – through the Act, programs are authorized that help individuals with disabilities acquire the skills they need to be successful in the workplace, including vocational rehabilitation training and services. The main activity to support individuals with disabilities in WIOA is integrated employment opportunities. Integrated employment opportunities expect the same performance in a work setting of those that have disabilities with others that are not considered individuals with disabilities.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) 1997, amended 2004 – civil rights and education legislation that guarantees the right to the opportunity to learn for all children and adolescents, ages 3-21, who have disabilities. For those programs providing services to individuals, ages 16-21 that have left the secondary school system and have a special education history in elementary and secondary schools components of the IDEIA are applicable.
Actions that are considered discriminatory in programs may include, but not be limited to:
- Denial of services, privileges and benefits equal to that afforded to others enrolled or pursuing enrollment in ABE
- Refusal of enrollment based on the need to provide reasonable accommodation
- Lack of provisions to provide needed reasonable accommodations so an individual with a disability can participate in programs and services as effectively as those who do not have disabilities
- Perpetuating discrimination by providing significant assistance to, or contracting with an agency, facility, organization or business that discriminates on the basis of individual disability status
Federal, state and local laws and policies hold adult basic education as well as partnering entities accountable for ensuring a collective commitment to nondiscrimination practices when interacting with all students, vendors, contractors, and the community at large. Communication of this commitment should be included in verbal statements and printed formats when conducting outreach, orientations, and other intake services.
Confidentiality and Disclosure of Disability/Medical Related Information
Programs must adhere to all federal and state privacy and confidentiality rules and regulations.
Disclosure of a disability in an adult basic education program is voluntary. Students and prospective students must be informed that disability or medical information disclosed will not be shared or discussed with any other agency or organization. Equally, students and prospective students must be made aware that choosing to disclose or not disclose disability or medical information is not a condition for acceptance or denial of services in programs.
In the event it is deemed important to share a student’s disability or medical information, the student must complete a release of information.
Given the fact that many students enrolled in programs have lower reading comprehension levels, the release of information form should have the following statements which should be read aloud and reviewed with the student:
- I understand that this information will be kept confidential and will not be shared with any other program, agency or organization other that the above named without my written consent
- This release form has been read and reviewed with me and I understand its content
Release of information forms should be active for no longer than one year. At the time of expiration, if disclosure and discussion of the student’s disability is to be continued then a new release form must be signed. The student can cancel the release of information processes in writing at any time.