U.S. Department of Education Offers Guidance on ADA Amendments

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The Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague letter and Frequently Asked Questions document providing guidance for elementary and secondary schools on the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504). The guidance addresses changes to the ADA and Section 504 made by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (the Amendments Act), which became effective on January 1, 2009.

The new guidance emphasizes that under the Amendments Act, the threshold for qualifying as a student with a disability is now less restrictive. Accordingly, more emphasis should be placed on determining appropriate services, accommodations and modifications and less focus should be placed on whether a student is “disabled.” The guidance clarifies that if a student with a disability does not need services, accommodations or modifications, then no additional support is required. Nevertheless, the student remains protected by the nondiscrimination provisions of the ADA and Section 504.

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