ADA/Section 504 Accessibility FAQs

What is a disability?

The ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act defines a person with a disability as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such impairment, or a person who is regarded as having such impairment.

What is a reasonable accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is any adjustment or change in a work environment that will allow a qualified individual with a disability to perform an essential job function. Accommodations in programs could include changes in practices, policies and procedures (such as providing adaptive devices) that would allow an individual with a disability the opportunity to communicate or participate in a program. For more information on reasonable accommodations read Small Employers and Reasonable Accommodations.

What is an undue hardship/undue burden?

The ADA defines an undue hardship as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense for the business/employer. The following factors are usually considered:

  • The nature and cost of the proposed accommodation.
  • The overall financial resources of the business and the effect of the accommodation upon expenses and resources.
  • The impact of the accommodation upon the operation of the facility.

For more information on undue hardship in employment, visit the US Department of Labor’s website ( The definition of undue burden is the same as undue hardship, the standard applied in employment under title I of the ADA and Section 504.

What is a self-evaluation?

According to the US Department of Justice, a self-evaluation is a public entity’s assessment of its current policies and practices. The self-evaluation identifies and corrects those policies and practices that are inconsistent with title II’s requirements. All public entities must complete a self-evaluation by January 26, 1993.

What Is Section 504 and The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability from organizations that receive federal funding. According to Section 504, any organization that receives federal funding is required to make its programs and activities accessible to people with disabilities.

What is Universal Design?

Universal Design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. These can include:

  • Equitable Use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
  • Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  • Simple and Intuitive: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences.
  • Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
  • Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions,
  • Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably, and with a minimum of fatigue.
  • Size and Space for Approach and Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulations, and use regardless of the user’s body size, posture, or mobility.