Learning Disabilities Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973


The purpose of this policy statement is to clarify the existing college policy towards equal education for the disabled as it applies to the learning disabled. This policy statement is intended to provide guidelines to the faculty to assist them in making academic accommodations for learning disabled students while at the same time maintaining a high degree of academic excellence.


Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that:

"No otherwise qualified handicapped individual ... shall, solely by reason of handicap be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

This law obligates the College to make certain accommodations to provide qualified handicapped (disabled) persons with opportunities equal to those enjoyed by qualified non-handicapped persons. Section 504 further states that "Modifications as are necessary are designed to insure that academic requirements will not be discriminatory and will not effectively exclude the disabled person from completion of the program because of a lack of accommodations." As a recipient of federal assistance, Nassau Community College complies with the requirements of Section 504.


A handicapped person is anyone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities - such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking or learning and therefore includes the learning disabled student. Persons with learning disabilities are specifically described by the legislation as:

"Those persons who have a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations. Such disorders include such conditions as perceptual handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. Such terms do not include persons who have learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps, or mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage."

It is important to note that learning disabilities do not necessarily preclude students from being able to complete college level work. In fact, learning disabled individuals are of at least average intelligence or above. However, learning disabled students may face frustration trying to cope with the demands of college. The educational process may be impaired because their methods of learning differ. Yet with appropriate accommodations for their learning disabilities, many of these students can and do learn strategies to become successful in college.

College Admissions Policy for Learning Disabled Students

Learning disabled students must meet the same program entrance requirements as every other student at the College.


a. Students must identify themselves to Disabled Student Services and provide appropriate documentation that they have a learning disability. Such documentation may include, but is not limited, to the following:

1. Certification by the high school's Special Education Committee or similar body.

2. Psycho-educational evaluation by a licensed practitioner.

b. The College's obligation attaches only to those students who have identified themselves as learning disabled.Academic Policy for Learning Disabled Students

Learning disabled students are required to meet the same standards of academic performance as other students at the College. However, faculty members and academic advisors may need to make certain accommodations (modifications) in exams, for example, which should be designed to reflect the students' mastery of the subject matter rather than reflecting the students' disabilities. The accommodations should be based on the nature of the learning disability and should be applied on an individual basis. Examples of accommodations could include, but are not limited to:

  • extension of time to complete an assignment or an exam
  • proofreaders for spelling
  • note takers- oral presentation of normally written material
  • tape recording of lectures or written assignments
  • special seating- use of visual aids or calculators, or
  • frequently providing written examples of complex lecture materials along with oral presentations.

It is the students' responsibility to make known the need for any such arrangements with the respective faculty members. Faculty are encouraged to seek the advice of the counselors in Disabled Student Services regarding appropriate accommodations.

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