The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights clarified legal obligations Friday for school districts in providing access to sports for students with disabilities. The guidance concerns Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a law that deals with the rights of disabled people who participate in activities that receive federal dollars.
A school district “is required to provide a qualified student with a disability an opportunity to benefit from the school district’s program equal to that of students without disabilities,” according to the Education Department. Advocates for disabled athletes, some of whom have pressed legal claims against state athletic associations in recent years, praised the clarification of rules and said that as a result, participation for disabled athletes could rise.
“This is a landmark moment for students with disabilities,” Terri Lakowski, chief executive of Active Policy Solutions, a Washington-based advocacy group, said. “It will do for kids with disabilities what Title IX did for women. This level of clarity has been missing for years.”
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