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Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a national law that protects qualified individuals from discrimination based on their disability.  Why is this civil rights law important?  When asked what the top five issues facing people with disabilities in the Freedom Resource Center catchment area is, the answer consistently has been “prejudices against people with disabilities, especially unseen disabilities.”

Section 504 forbids organizations and employers from excluding or denying individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to receive program benefits and services.  If defines the rights of individuals with disabilities to participate in, and have access to, program benefits and services.

Qualified individuals with disabilities are defined as persons with a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities.  Major areas include caring for oneself, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, performing manual tasks, and learning.

For purposes of employment, qualified individuals with disabilities are persons who, with reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential function of the job for which they have applied or have been hired to perform.

For information on how to file a complaint of discrimination, or to obtain information of a civil rights nature, you can contac t the Office of Civil Rights at 1-800-368-1019 (voice), 1-800-537-7697 (TDD).  Their website is

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