Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal civil rights law that protects individuals who qualify as having a disability from discrimination. This entry describes the development of this law, its application to contemporary public education, and its relationship to more recent laws addressing the rights of individuals with disabilities.


The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was enacted as a replacement for the earlier Vocational Rehabilitation Act, which ensured that individuals with disabilities such as blindness, mental illness, intellectual disabilities, or physical impairments received support in preparing for and obtaining employment. The 1973 law pertains specifically to federal agencies, and it contains a number of important sections that establish affirmative action related to individuals with disabilities and prohibit employment discrimination against them:

  • Section 501 creates ...
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