From CUNY Academic Commons



Universal Design and Access (ADA)

Disability Definitions 

  • The Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The term “disability” means…a physical or mental impairment that constitutes or results in a substantial impediment to employment; or…a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. 29 USC §705(9). Individual with a disability…[T]he term “individual with a disability” means…any person who (i) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities; (ii) has a record of such an impairment; or (iii) is regarded as having such an impairment, 29 USC §705(20)(B).
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act. The term “disability” means, with respect to an individual—(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; (B) a record of such an impairment; or (C) being regarded as having such an impairment. 42 USC §12102(2).
  • New York State Human Rights Law. The term “disability” means (a) a physical, mental or medical impairment resulting from anatomical, physiological, genetic or neurological conditions which prevents the exercise of a normal bodily function or is demonstrable by medically accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques or (b) a record of such an impairment or (c) a condition regarded by others as such an impairment, provided, however, that in all provisions of this article dealing with employment, the term shall be limited to disabilities which, upon the provision of reasonable accommodations, do not prevent the complainant from performing in a reasonable manner the activities involved in the job or occupation sought or held. Executive Law §292(21).
  • New York City Administrative Code. The term “physical or mental impairment” means a physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin and endocrine; or a mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, developmental disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. It includes, but is not limited to, such diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, alcoholism, substance abuse, and drug addition. Admin. Code §8-102(16)(b).

Section 503 – Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, applies to all federal contractors and subcontractors with contracts of $10,000 or more. It mandates affirmative action to employ and advance in employment, qualified people with disabilities. In addition, it requires all recipients with 50 or more employees and one or more federal contracts of $50,000 or more to prepare and maintain affirmative action programs.

Section 504 – Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in federally funded programs and activities. The Justice Department’s Disability Rights Section is responsible for coordinating government-wide efforts to comply with Section 504.

The Americans with Disabilities Act – The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guarantees disabled people access to employment, public accommodations, transportation, public services and telecommunications. The ADA provides comprehensive federal civil rights protection for people with disabilities.

New York State Human Rights Executive Law 296 – Executive Law §296(1)(a) makes it an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to refuse to hire or employ or to bar or to discharge from employment a disabled individual or to discriminate against such individual in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment. Executive Law §296(3)(a) requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations to the known disabilities of an employee, prospective employee in connection with a job or occupation sought or held or participation in a training program. Executive Law §296(b) provides that nothing contained in this subdivision shall be construed to require provision of accommodations that can be demonstrated to impose an undue hardship on the operation of an employer’s business program or enterprise. Executive Law §296(7) makes it unlawful discriminatory practice for any person engaged in any activity to which this section applies to retaliate or discriminate against any person because he or she has opposed any practices forbidden under this article or because he or she has filed a complaint, testified or assisted in any proceeding under this article.

ADA/504 Compliance Coordinator – The 504/ADA Compliance Coordinator is appointed by the President. This person is responsible for:

  • Monitoring the college for 504/ADA compliance
  • Resolving issues before they become potential grievances
  • Making sure that disabled employees are accommodated
  • Making sure that disabled students receive the same opportunities that other
  • students receive in the most integrated fashion
  • Providing training to those who must interact with the disabled.

504/ADA Committee – The 504/ADA Committee serves as an advisory committee to the 504/ADA Coordinator. The committee assists in formulating new ideas and monitoring the College for 504/ADA Compliance. The Committee is comprised of representatives from various divisions, departments, programs, and services that make up the College. The Coordinator for Disabled Student Services is a member of the committee.

Reasonable Accommodations – The term “reasonable accommodation” means actions taken which permit an employee or prospective employee with a disability to perform in a reasonable manner the activities involved in the job or occupation sought or held and include, but are not limited to, provision of an accessible worksite, acquisition or modification of equipment, support services for persons with impaired hearing or vision, job restructuring and modified work schedules; provided, however, that such actions do not impose an undue hardship on the business, program or enterprise of the entity from which action is requested. New York State Human Rights Executive Law §292(21-e)

People with Disabilities, Tech.  & the Law with Tim Spofford

Nov. 1, 2010: Tim Spofford presents a public lecture to the university community on the functional and legal importance of ensuring that university technology such as web pages and applications can be accessed by people with disabilities.

Web Accessibility Webinar

Web Accessibility: Know Your Responsibilities

This broadcast was presented by Debi Orton, Manager of Web Services, GOER on October 7, 2010 via Elluminate.
Sponsored by:

  • NYS Disability Services Council
  • Sharon Trerise, Coordinator of Disability Services, Cayuga Community College

Live captioning provided by DBTAC Northeast ADA Center

Creating ADA Compliant Online Courses

“Creating Accessible E-Courses for All Students” project was designed and developed by MS in Instructional Technology student Sheri Anderson to create accessible online courses that meet Americans with Disabilities Act conditions. This project was a requirement for MIT 515: Web Teaching: Design & Development completed in Spring of 2007 under the direction of Dr. Jennifer Summerville.

This course was created using the Course Management System, Blackboard Vista. Please following the following instructions to view the course.

  1. Go to:
  2. Click on UNC Wilmington
  3. Click Log In

Username: sheri_guest
Password: uncw12

Additional Resources

CUNY Assistive Technology Services Website

CATSweb is an online resource for CUNY‘s assistive technology professionals. CATSweb will provide a unified channel of information on best practices, emerging technologies and tested solutions that provide access to CUNY students with disabilities.

University of Washington’s Technology and Universal Design website

Web Resources, Overview and Value of Technology Access for People with Disabilities, Assistive Technology, and Universal/Accessible Design of Information Technology. (

Resources for Teaching and Learning with Technology | ePortfolios Across CUNY: Aggregating and Integrating Information