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The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law on July 26, 1990. The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and activities of state and local government. Employers, labor organizations and joint labor-management committees must have nondiscriminatory application procedures, qualification standards, and must provide reasonable and appropriate accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities.

Anyone who has a physical or mental impairment substantially limiting one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such impairment, is considered a person with a disability. In accordance with the provisions of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, disabilities may include, but are not necessarily limited to, visual impairments, mobility and orthopedic impairments, hearing impairments, chronic medical conditions, learning disabilities, and psychological disorders.

In terms of employment, the law defines a “qualified individual with a disability” as a person who can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. Accommodations are developed on an individual basis and in a partnership between the person with the disability and the employer. Accommodation solutions may involve equipment changes, workstation modifications, adjustments to work schedules, or assistance in accessing the facility, depending on the individual's particular limitations and needs. Accommodations are based on the job tasks that must be performed, the functional limitations of the individual, and whether the proposed accommodation(s) will result in undue hardship to the employer.

The Affirmative Action Office has been designated to coordinate the College's compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The office handles inquiries about compliance and investigates complaints of disagreements or denials of disability-related accommodations and services. Vassar College has adopted an internal appeals process for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints or disagreements about accessibility, accommodations, auxiliary aids and services, and modifications to academic courses, programs, and activities.