You've made sure a documentation letter is on file at your school, tried to
negotiate appropriate accommodations, and discussed your needs and problems with
the campus disability services office or counseling center. But if you still
feel you're facing discrimination at school, it may be time to file a formal
Filing a Complaint under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
If your educational institution has a contract of more than $10,000 a year with
the federal government, Section 503 of the Rehab Act requires it to provide
reasonable accommodations for your documented disability. If you don't feel
you're getting the accommodations you need, you can file a complaint under
Section 503 by contacting the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal
Contract Compliance Programs at (202) 219-9423 (voice/relay).
If your school receives money from the federal government (including federal
financial aid), Section 504 of the Rehab Act requires it to make "appropriate
and reasonable" modifications to policies and practices. (It does not, however,
require schools to develop special education programming for students with
disabilities.) This applies to almost all public schools and many private ones.
To file a complaint under Section 504, contact the
Disability Rights Section of
the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division at
(800) 514-0301 (voice) or (800) 514-0383 (TDD).
Filing a Complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act
Title III of the ADA prohibits private and nonprofit entities, such as private
schools and colleges, from excluding, segregating, or treating you unequally
because of your disability. You must be able to physically access these places.
They must provide reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and
procedures and use effective communication methods to inform people with
disabilities. Courses and exams must be provided in an accessible place and
manner, or alternative accessible arrangements must be available.
To file a complaint under Title III, contact the Disability Rights Section of
the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. You must file your
complaint within 180 days (six months) of the date of the discrimination. You
also do not need to wait for the Disability Rights Section to agree that you're
a victim of discrimination to file a lawsuit in federal court. For details,
contact the Disability Rights Section at (800) 514-0301 (voice) or (800)
© 1997, 1998 Center for Psychiatric
Rehabilitation, Boston University
January 27, 2006