Auxiliary Aids and Services for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities
In 1973, Congress passed Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a law which prohibits discrimination on the basis of physical or mental disability (29 U.S.C. Section 794). It states:
No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his 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…
The Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education enforcecs regulations implementing Section 504 with respect to programs and activities that receive funding from the Department. Section 504 regulations applies to all recipients of this funding, including colleges, universities, and post-secondary vocational education and adult education programs.
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prohibits state and local governments from disciminating on the basis of disability. Here, too, public colleges, universities, and graduate and professional school are required to comply with Title II and are enforced by the Office for Civil Rights. It is under Title II that the requirements regarding the provisions of auxillary aids and services are generally included in the general nondiscrimination provisions of the Title II regulation.
Postsecondary School Provision of Auxiliary Aids
Section 504 regulation contains the following requirement relating to a postsecondary school’s obligation to provide auxiliary aids to qualified students who have disabilities:
A recipient…shall take such steps as are necessary to ensure that no handicapped student is denied the benefits of, excluded from participation in, or otherwise subjected to discrimination under the education program or activity operated by the recipient because of the absence of educational auxiliary aids for students with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills.
The Title II regulation states:
A public entity shall furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to afford an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, a service, program, or activity conducted by a public entity.
It is the school’s responsibility to provide these auxillary aids and services and that it is done so in a timely manner to ensure effective participation by students with disabilities.
Examples of Auxillary Aids
Some examples of auxillary aids and services may include:
- taped texts
- videotext displays
- television enlargers
- talking claculators
- electronic readers
- Braille calculators, printers, or typewriters
- telephone handset amplifiers
- closed caption decoders
- open and closed captioning
- specialized gym equipment
- calculators or keyboards with large buttons
- reaching device for library use
- raised-line drawing kits
- assistive listening devices
- assistive listening systems
- telecommunications devices for deaf persons
While technological advances in electronics improve vastly and quickly, and while we at DSS pride ourselves on attempting to provide our students with the most current, dependable, recommended technology, colleges are not required to provide the most sophisticated auxillary aids available; however, the aids provided must effectively meet the needs of the student with a disability. An institution has flexibility in choosing the specific aid or service it provides to the student, as long as the aid or service selected is effective. Successful effectiveness of the aid and/or service is determined by its success in equalizing the opportunity for a student with a disability.
Keep in mind, like no two students are created equally, neither is their disability. What auxillary aid and/or services works for one student with a disability may be equally successful for another. DSS works tirelessly to create current accommodation plans for our students so that as the student progresses in their higher education career, so too are their disability needs met.
One of the best ways that we can provide and auxillary accommodation to our students that is universally appreciated is through captioning. With wonderful software programs, such as Camtasia, captioning is almost effortless to do and only takes a few spare minutes of time during the creation process of your Camtasia video. Instructions and links to very helpful tutorials on how to caption your Camtasia videos can be found here. We ask that all professors who are currently or will be creating Camtasia videos, either to be used in class or as an optional class aid, caption their videos. While DSS does its best to provide interpreters for individuals with hearing impairments to interpret non-captioned videos, not all persons with hearing impairments, even the most profoundly deaf, read sign language. It is for this reason, as well as to allow the student independence, and because it’s the law, that we ask you to caption your class videos.
For more information on Section 504 and Title II auxillary aids and services for post-secondary students, visit the U.S. Department of Education at www.ED.gov, or click here for a direct link to the article for which the above information was provided.