Americans with Disabilities Act: Provisions & Impact on Education

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  • 0:04 Background on School Law
  • 0:42 Legislation for the Disabled
  • 1:20 Protection Against…
  • 1:56 Equal Access for the Disabled
  • 2:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In an effort to provide equal access for all students, the federal government has passed a number of laws that provide protection to disabled students. In this lesson, we'll learn about the Americans with Disabilities Act and its effect on education.

Background on School Law

Although state governments make most decisions about education for the state, there are some pieces of federal legislation that affect schools. Generally, federal laws surrounding schools concern the protection of each person's civil rights. One of the laws that is designed to protect all disabled people is the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA.

While the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is specifically geared towards schools, the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, encompasses the treatment of disabled people in all public facilities, including disabled parents who visit schools. Let's learn more about this legislation.

Legislation for the Disabled

Why is it necessary to have laws specifically targeted at protecting the rights of disabled people? It wasn't that long ago that students who were deaf, blind, mentally ill, or cognitively impaired had no choice but to be home schooled or to go to expensive private schools.

During the 1960's, President John F. Kennedy created a committee that considered the educational needs of cognitively disabled students for the first time. As people became more aware of the needs of students with handicapping conditions, advocates were able to push for services to be provided to all populations. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted by Congress.

Protection Against Discrimination

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act? The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination based on disabilities for all public entities, including educational facilities. Similar to the way race, religion, gender, and national origin are protected according to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ADA protects disabled students from being discriminated against because of their disability.

For example, schools must make reasonable accommodations to enable disabled students to be included in activities that take place both on and off campus, including athletics, fine arts, and field trips.

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