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 The Government Center: Disability Rights

Knowing Section 504 and ADA

Okay, what about when you are out of school? That’s where the Rehabilitation Act – Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) come into play.

The ADA basically says that people with disabilities have a right to privacy. This means that you don't have to answer questions if you don't want to, whether it is a job interview, membership in a certain program, or a service provided in the community.

However, because the ADA and other civil rights laws say that employers must include people with disabilities in activities and provide them with "reasonable accommodations" (ways for someone to provide some support to you so that you can be part of a program or do a certain job), it's sometimes Okay for people to ask about things you do and what kind of support you may need.

With Section 504 and ADA, you have the right to have:

  • A building put up ramps or elevators so that you can get around if you are in a wheelchair
  • Public transportation provide ramps or alternative ways so you can get onto a bus or subway
  • Bathrooms big enough and aisles wide enough for wheelchairs in theatres and restaurants
  • Employers make “reasonable accommodations” so you can work. That means if you tell your employer about your disability and what you will need to get a job, keep a job, AND you have some proof of this, they can make adjustments or changes to assist you (if it does not cause them a real hardship). Examples might include that because of your learning disability you would need verbal directions instead of everything in writing, or because of your depression you may need more time off or a more flexible schedule or more time to do your job
  • A college make accommodations such as more time for testing, a reader to read the material, an interpreter if you have a hearing impairment, or Braille books if you are blind

Listen up, though! The law is not clean, clear, and neat. Sometimes people may not give you a specific accommodation you've requested. You will need to prove that you need it and you still may have to file a complaint or call the Office of Civil Rights if you do not receive an accommodation that meets your needs. That can be scary.

Lots of teens don't want to talk about their disability or make a big deal about it. But if you really need some accommodations to graduate, go to college, have a job, keep a job, get into the building, or go to the movies with friends, you will need to learn about your disability. You also need to learn how to talk with people assertively and to share information about your rights in a respectful way.

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Last updated on December 5, 2018

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