Obligation for ADA/Section 504 Compliance

The Tennessee Arts Commission is a recipient of federal financial support from the National Endowment for the Arts and other federal agencies. As a recipient of Tennessee Arts Commission funds, your organization is subject to compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. In addition, there are other federal laws that are noted on the Assurances section of the grant application form and subsequent grant contracts that require your organization’s compliance. Please read those documents carefully and know that by signing them, you are guaranteeing the compliance of your organization.


The following information is a brief overview of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Please note that this is only an overview and that there are links throughout this section that will direct you to the actual laws and/or to documents that more thoroughly explain your organization’s compliance obligations.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973: Section 504

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits recipients of federal funding from discriminating against peoples with disabilities in their hiring and contracting practiced (sections 501 and 503), facilities (Section 502), and programs (Section 504). Section 504 is most relevant to museums, arts organizations, performing arts centers, state arts agencies, and theatres as it mandates access for people with disabilities to federally assisted programs and services. This includes programs that receive funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National of Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Department of Education (DOE). Each federal grant making agency has its own Section 504 regulations covering its grant recipients.

ADA Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is federal civil rights law that prohibits exclusion of people with disabilities from everyday activities including leisure activities. It extends accessibility provisions to both the public and private sectors. The ADA guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications by requiring businesses of all sizes that serve the public to remove existing barriers that are readily achievable, to ensure accessibility in new and remodeled facilities, and to facilitate effective communication by providing auxiliary aids.

Visit the National Endowment for the Arts Web site to download a copy of Section 504 Self Evaluation Workbook and the full text of the ADA legislation. Additional ADA can be found at the Department of Justice