Law & Policy
Individuals with disabilities are entitled by law to equal access to postsecondary programs. There are two laws that protect persons with disabilities in postsecondary education: The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Pub. L. No. 93-112, as amended) and the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (Pub. L. No. 1001-336). According to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, 1990), a student with a disability is someone who has a physical or mental impairment, has a history of impairment, or is believed to have a disability that substantially limits a major life activity such as learning, speaking, seeing, hearing, breathing, walking, caring for oneself, or performing manual tasks.
The Rehabilitation Act
Title V of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is generally regarded as the first civil rights legislation on the national level for people with disabilities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is a program access statute. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity offered by an entity or institution receiving federal funds. Section 504 states (as amended):
No otherwise qualified person with a disability in the United States…shall, solely on the basis of disability, be denied access to, or the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity provided by any institution receiving federal financial assistance.
Under Section 504, institutions were required to appoint and maintain at least one person to coordinate its efforts to comply with the requirements of Section 504. Individuals working in Disability Services have the ongoing responsibility of assuring that the institution/agency/ organization practices nondiscrimination on the basis of disability and should be included in any grievance procedures developed to address possible instances of discrimination brought against the institution. At Anoka-Ramsey Community College, the established office is the Office for Students with Disabilities.
The Americans with Disability Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights statute that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. There are four main sections of the law: employment, government, public accommodations, and telecommunications. The ADA provides additional protection for persons with disabilities in conjunction with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The ADA is designed to remove barriers which prevent qualified individuals with disabilities from enjoying the same opportunities that are available to persons without disabilities.
Postsecondary institutions are covered in many ways under the ADA. Employment is addressed by Title I, and Title II addresses accessibility provided by public entities. Accessibility provided by private entities is addressed in Title III, and Title IV addresses telecommunications. Miscellaneous items are included in Title V.
Amendments to the ADA, which took effect January 1, 2009, clarify who is covered by the law’s protections. The ADAAA revises the definition of “disability” to more broadly include impairments that substantially limit a major life activity. The amendment also states that mitigating measures, including assistive devices, auxiliary aids, accommodations, medical therapies, and supplies have no bearing in determining whether a disability qualifies under the law.
The ADA in Relation to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
Institutions that receive federal funds (such as Anoka-Ramsey Community College) are covered under Section 504. The ADA does not supplant Section 504 but the ADA standards apply in those situations where the ADA provides greater protection. Therefore, postsecondary institutions must adhere to both the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Please realize that the laws do not require a school to lower its academic standards, nor will schools change the rules to make it easier for you than other students. You still will be required to meet the essential components of your coursework as well as meet relevant academic and conduct standards to receive protection under the law.
Definition of Service Animal
A Service animal is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (ADAAA) as a dog or a miniature horse that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.
A trained dog might perform some of the following work or tasks for an individual with disabilities:
- Guide a blind person
- Pick up items
- Remind an individual to take medication
- Alert an individual before a seizure
- Calm a person with mental health conditions during an episode of intense anxiety
Qualifications of Service Animals
- Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as a service animal and are not afforded the same rights as trained Service Animals to be in public space, i.e. on Anoka Ramsey Community College Campus
- Service animals are working animals, not pets; the work or task the animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to an individual’s disability
- Service animals must be under the care and control of the individual it serves
Where Service Animals are allowed under the ADA
State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go. For example, in a hospital it would be inappropriate to exclude a service animal from areas such as patient rooms, clinics, cafeterias, or examination rooms. However, it may be appropriate to exclude a service animal from operating rooms or burn units where the animal’s presence may compromise a sterile environment.
Owner Responsibilities and Removal of Service Animal
Anoka Ramsey Community College (and the Office for Students with Disabilities) is not responsible for service animal care or behavior. In order to have a service animal on campus, owners/handlers must:
- Be in control of the animal at all times (no running about, barking, growling, lunging, biting, snapping, etc.
- Keep the animal harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animals work, or the individuals disability prevents using these devices, in which case the individual must maintain control through voice, signal or other effective means
- Follow city, county, state laws and regulations pertaining to licensing, vaccination, and other requirements
- Clean up and dispose of animal waste safely
- Be responsible for the cost of damages caused by the animal
- Follow additional requirements in particular settings
College staff may ask that animals be removed from campus if:
- The animal does not meet the definition and qualifications of a service animal
- The animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others
- The animal may cause substantial property damage
- The animals presence results in a fundamental alteration of an academic program
- Owner/handler responsibilities are not met
Inquiry Regarding Service Animals
When it is not obvious a dog is a service animal, there are limitations to what can be asked. The two questions allowed by law are:
- Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability
- What work or task has the dog been trained to perform
Individuals cannot be asked questions regarding:
- A need to require medical documentation
- Special identification for the dog or proof that it has been trained
- The dog to perform or demonstrate the task or work identified
In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the Department’s revised ADA regulations have a new, separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. (Miniature horses generally range in height from 24 inches to 34 inches measured to the shoulders and generally weigh between 70 and 100 pounds.)
Entities covered by the ADA must modify their policies to permit miniature horses where reasonable. The regulations set out four assessment factors to assist entities in determining whether miniature horses can be accommodated in their facility. The assessment factors are (1) whether the miniature horse is housebroken; (2) whether the miniature horse is under the owner’s control; (3) whether the facility can accommodate the miniature horse’s type, size, and weight; and (4) whether the miniature horse’s presence will not compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of the facility.
Appealing a denied accommodation request
The Office for Students with Disabilities is committed to ensuring access and supporting student success. Students who are concerned about program access or accommodations should discuss these issues with the OSD Director or OSD Assistant Director.
If you feel your concerns have not been resolved adequately after meeting with the OSD staff, you may choose to follow the complaint/grievance process listed on our website:
Student Complaint/Grievance form is available online at:
Complaint of Disability related Discrimination
According to the Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination 1B.1 Policy, no person shall be discriminated against, harassed, verbal of physically abused, or retaliated against because of their protected class (including disability).
Any student who believes they have been discriminated against because of disability, is encouraged to make a formal complaint to one or more of the following:
- Submit a Student Complaint Form
- Contact the Dean of Student Services, Lisa Harris, Harris@anokaramsey.edu
- File a complaint with the MN Department of Human Rights
Written complaints must be filed within one year of alleged discrimination
Send written complaint to:
MN Department of Human Rights
700 Bremer Tower, 7th Place
St. Paul, MN 55101
- File a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights
Written complaint must be signed and filed within 180 days of alleged discrimination
Send written complaint to:
Regional Civil Rights Director
Office for Civil Rights, Region V
401 South State Street, 7th Floor
Chicago, IL 60605
For more information review: