Definition of a Disability

Disability Services is committed to providing equal access and reasonable academic accommodations for qualified students with documented disabilities according to guidelines proposed under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) , and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). The ADA defines a disability as:

  • a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual. Major activities are those activities which the average person can perform without difficulty. Examples of major life activities include, but are not limited to, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, concentrating, reading, caring for oneself, sitting, standing, lifting, and bending, A major life activity also includes the operation of major bodily functions, including but not limited to, functions of the immune, digestive, endocrine, respiratory and circulatory systems, of the bowel, the bladder, and of normal cell growth.
  • a record of such impairment; or
  • being regarded as having such impairment.


Students who meet the first (actual disability) and second (record of disability) parts of the definition are entitled to reasonable accommodations; "individuals who only meet the third part (regarded as) are protected from discrimination under the law, but are not entitled to accommodations under ADA."