What does the law say about The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed by the Congress and signed by the president in November 2008, which was to be effective as from 1st January 2009. One of the direct effects of the new law that most school leaders are now learning about is expanding the eligibility for individual student Section 504 plans. For a student to be eligible, they must meet the following criteria:
- Should have one or more of the qualifications that are listed and defined in the IDEA for instance autism among others
- The reason for special education with a valid reason such as: the student should be mental or physically ill with the ability to limit a major life activity to a substantial extent.
Expansion of the ADAA emphasizes the eligibility and provision of the resulting reasonable accommodations in terms of free appropriate public education that is under section 504. However, the ADAA expansion also reverses the recent advice to avoid using the 504 plans. Education leaders should carefully consider the new interpretive standards as well as the resulting obligations to the students who are eligible. School nurses are important for students with physical disabilities that limit their major life activities but not learning in a direct manner (Zirkel, 2011).
There are major implications for special education of the newly expanded section 504. The new ADAA standards lack the ability to reinforce the complications of the coverage of IDEA and section 504 that is overlapping. The new standards is responsible with increasing awareness of comitant complications related to the increased use of section 504 which is an alternative venue that will allow litigation claims for the double-covered students i.e. those that are eligible for IDEA making the automatically eligible under section 504 (Zirkel, 2011)
Zirkel, P. A. (2011). What does the law say? TEACHING Exceptional Children 43(3): 65-67