On Monday, the U.S. Department of Education, led by Secretary Arne Duncan, brought together policymakers and advocates – including CEC – to celebrate the 39th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, landmark legislation which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that school districts provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualified students in their jurisdictions who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability (see more here.).
Through the reflections of Michael Winter, activist turned employee within the U.S. Department of Transportation; John Wodatch, former top official within the U.S. Department of Justice and contributor to the original Rehabilitation Act regulations, the reception attendees heard recollections of how far the disability rights movement has come and advances that still must occur.
Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Civil Rights, Russlyn Ali; and Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, Michael Yudin, all highlighted areas for continued focus such as access to technology and charter schools.
In conjunction with this commemoration, the Office of Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Education released Disability Rights Enforcement Highlights a compilation of guidance and data on key issues such as FAPE, discipline, postsecondary education, and technology.