- Module 1: Overview of Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- Module 2: The Interactive Process
- Module 3: Current Outlook on Medical Marijuana
REHABILITATION ACT OF 1973, SECTION 504
Rehabilitation Act. An act passed by the US Congress in 1973 which 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.
Our Responsibilities Under Section 504
- Determining and coordinating academic adjustments, reasonable modifications, and auxiliary aids.
- Ensuring students have equal access to all aspects of the university experience.
- Help students understand their civil rights as members of a protected class.
- Of equal importance, preserving the integrity of a professional program by recommending reasonable adjustments that do not fundamentally alter the nature of the program or challenge the academic rigor.
What is the Interactive Process?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of The Rehabilitations Act of 1973 requires covered entities to provide effective, reasonable accommodations for employees/students with disabilities.
To help determine effective accommodations. Regulations, recommends that covered entities use an “interactive process,” which simply means that the covered entity and individuals with disabilities who request accommodations work together to come up with accommodations.
Exception to the Interactive Process
According to the ADA and Section 504, the interactive process is not always required. In many instances, the appropriate accommodation is obvious and therefore it is not necessary to go through a step-by-step process.
- For example, if an employee or student who uses a wheelchair requests that his desk be placed on blocks to elevate the desktop above the arms of the wheelchair and the entity complies, an appropriate accommodation has been requested, identified, and provided without the need for a formal process
Step 1: Recognizing an Accommodation Request
The interactive process starts with an accommodation request from an employee/student with a disability so it is important for entity to be able to recognize a request. According to the law, an individual may use "plain English" and need not mention the ADA or use the phrase "reasonable accommodation" when requesting an accommodation. Therefore, any time an employee/student indicates that he/she is having a problem and the problem is related to a medical condition, the entity should consider whether the employee/student is making a request for accommodation under the ADA or Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act
Step 2: Gathering Information
Once an accommodation request has been received, the entity should gather whatever information is necessary to process the request. Necessary information may include documentation of the disability and need for accommodation. In some cases, the student’s disability and need for accommodation are obvious and no additional information is needed.
- For example, if a student who recently started using a wheelchair indicates that he needs a assistance to get into the classroom, the disability and need for accommodation are obvious.
- Under the ADA and 504, when an student requests an accommodation and the disability and need for accommodation are not obvious, then the employer can request medical documentation to help determine whether the employee has a disability and needs the requested accommodation and information to help process the accommodation request.
Step 3: Exploring Accommodation Options
Once the entity has identified the student’s limitation that is causing a problem and has identified what that problem is, then the entity is ready to explore accommodation options. At this step, entity should be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. This is the time to brainstorm and consider what might work.
- Keep an open mind. Accommodations are about doing things differently to help overcome disability-related limitations.
- Invite the student to suggest accommodations. The student who requested the accommodation may have some good accommodation ideas, but may be hesitant to bring them up without being asked to do so.
- Ask the student’s medical provider for ideas. Some medical professionals will brainstorm accommodation ideas with covered entities.
Step 4: Choosing an Accommodation
Once accommodation options have been explored, the school must choose what accommodation to implement. If there is more than one option, the school should consider the preference of the student. However, the school gets to choose among effective options and can choose, for example, the lowest cost accommodation.
- Consider the student’s preference. Although not required by the ADA, when possible the entity should choose the accommodation the student prefers.
- Consider a trial period. When it is not clear whether an accommodation will work, it might be possible to try out the accommodation.
Step 5: Implementing the Accommodation
Once an accommodation has been chosen, it is time to implement the accommodation. This step is very important to the success of an accommodation.
- If equipment is involved, then it needs to be properly installed and the student needs to be trained in its proper use.
- If the accommodation involves a schedule change or policy modification, then certain faculty may need to know of the change to effectively implement it.
Make sure all necessary steps are taken to implement the accommodation. A good way to do this is to check to see if the accommodation is actually working.
Communicate with essential personnel about the accommodation. Remember ADA confidentiality rules and only let faculty and staff know about the accommodation if necessary.
Step 6: Monitoring the Accommodation
An important but often forgotten part of the interactive process is monitoring accommodations after they are in place. In some cases, an accommodation stops being effective for various reasons such as: the student’s limitations change, classroom setting versus clinical setting or the accommodation becomes an undue hardship for the employer.
- Check on effectiveness. As things change in from the classroom to clinical setting , accommodations may need to also change so ADA Coordinator should periodically check the effectiveness of accommodations.
- Encourage ongoing communication. For any classroom issue, ongoing communication is the key to success. The same is true for accommodations – ADA Coordinator should encourage students to communicate any issues they have with their accommodations.
South Carolina Compassionate Care Act
The bill’s qualifying conditions are: cancer, multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease or disorder, sickle cell anemia, glaucoma, PTSD, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, cachexia or wasting syndrome, a condition causing a person to be home-bound that includes severe or persistent nausea, a terminal illness with less than a year to live, or a chronic medical condition causing either severe and persistent muscle spasms or for which an opioid is currently or could be prescribed by a physician based on generally acceptable standards of care.
Americans with Disability Act and Medical Marijuana
Currently, all courts that have considered the issue have decided that the ADA does not require employers to accommodate medical marijuana use by employees. The ADA specifically states that a qualified individual with a disability “shall not include any employee, student or applicant who is currently engaging in the illegal use of drugs. ‘”. Illegal drug use, under the ADA, is defined as the use, possession or distribution of drugs deemed unlawful under the Controlled Substances Act. While medical marijuana may be legal under certain state laws, it remains illegal under the federal Control Substances Act.
DRUG FREE WORKPLACE ACT OF 1988
Is an act of the United States which requires some federal contractors and all federal grantees to agree that they will provide drug-free workplaces as a precondition of receiving a contract or grant from a Federal agency.
Although all covered contractors and grantees must maintain a drug-free workplace, the specific components necessary to meet the requirements of the Act vary based on whether the contractor or grantee is an individual or an organization. The requirements for organizations are more extensive, because organizations have to take comprehensive, programmatic steps to achieve a workplace free of drugs
Americans with Disabilities Act
Is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Title I of the ADA covers employment by private employers with 15 or more employees as well as state and local government employers of the same size. Section 501 of the rehabilitation act provides the same protections for federal employees and applicants for federal employment.