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Laws Relating to Assistive Technology

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The primary laws relating to assistive technology at the college level are federal, and they are designed to "level the playing field" by providing equal access for students with disabilities. (Not special access, not better access, just equal access.) However, public colleges often receive both federal and state funds, and therefore must meet the legal requirements set forth by their state as well.

Federal laws

Rehabilitation Act of 1973

As part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504 became the first federal civil rights law to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities.

Section 504 provides that: "no otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States shall, solely by reason of his/her handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

1992 Reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act, Section 508 (P.L. 102-569)

In 1992,  the reauthorization of Section 508 further strengthened the rights of individuals to be provided access to electronic and information technology. It requires that Federal agencies' electronic and information technology -- such as federal Web sites, telecommunications, software, hardware, printers, fax machines, copiers, and information kiosks -- are accessible to people with disabilities. Final regulations were published in 2001, which are applicable to colleges receiving federal funds.

Section 508 Website

Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990 (P.L. 101-336)

In 1990, the ADA was passed, giving full civil rights to all individuals with disabilities. It extends Section 504 by prohibiting discrimination in public and private sector employment, public accommodation, transportation, state and local government services and telecommunications.

For students with disabilities, the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of their disability and extends the right of access to ALL educational programs and services whether or not the school receives federal funding.

ADA Website

Technology Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-407)

The "Tech Act" provided federal funds to states to develop training and delivery systems for assistive technology devices and services. It required states and territories to develop statewide, consumer-responsive programs of technology-related services for individuals with disabilities of all ages. This law  was the first to define "Assistive Technology Devices and Services" and promoted the availability and quality of AT devices and services to all individuals, including children.

Assistive Technology Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-394)

This law replaced the Tech Act, which expired in 1998. The Act affirms that technology is a valuable tool that can be used to improve the lives of Americans with disabilities. It continues the funding of the 50 states and six territories to develop permanent, comprehensive, statewide programs of technology-related assistance.  Services are provided primarily through the Department of Rehabilitation. In California, this system is called CATS.

  AT  Network (excellent website funded by the Assistive Technology Act of 2004).

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State Laws

State laws which relate specifically to students with disabilities in college settings fall into a few broad categories: general civil rights or access, and academic issues.  Much of this information came from the DSPS area of the Californa Community College Chancellor's Office site.

Assembly Bill 77. (Lanterman, 1976)

An act which added Sections 72011, 78600 and 84850 to the California Education Code relating to Access to Community Colleges. This bill allocated funding to the California Community Colleges for them to provide access to its services, classes and programs without regard to race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, handicap, or sex. This, in essence, was the beginning of DSP&S.

Assembly Bill 746, (1987) Equal Access to Public Postsecondary Education.

 This bill added Sections 67310-67313 to the California Education Code. AB 746, Chapter 829, Statutes of 1987. This bill offers protections for disabled college students. Specifies principles that a state funded activity is required to observe to promote equal access for disabled students. It requires college and university officials to adopt rules and regulations and develop and implement a system for evaluating programs and services for disabled students.

Assembly Bill 422. (1999)

This act, sometimes referred to as the "Alternate Media" law, added Section 67302 to the Education Code, relating to instructional materials. AB 422 requires every individual, firm, partnership or corporation publishing or manufacturing printed instructional materials, as defined, for students attending the University of California, the California State University, or a California Community College to provide to the university, college, or particular campus of the university or college, for use by qualified students with a print disability (blind or visually impaired students, students with learning disabilities or an inability to turn pages in a book due to a physical disability) at no additional cost and in a timely manner, any printed instructional material in unencrypted electronic form upon the receipt of a written request, provided that the university or college complies with certain conditions.

California Educational Code: go to and select Education Code.

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What is Alternate Media? Who qualifies to receive it?

Alternate media refers to printed material converted to electronic text in order to make it accessible for a person with a disability. AB422 requires that textbook publishers, working with colleges and universities, make textbooks available in electronic format for qualified students with disabilities. A "qualified" student is one who can not access printed material because of a disability. A college or university has to certify, or qualify, the student before they can make a request on to their campus to receive alternate media. The student also has to purchase a printed copy of the book that they request be converted to an alternate format. 

For more information on alternate media at Cabrillo College, contact Jeff Hancock, Alternate Media Specialist, at (831) 477-5638.

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