Legal Cases

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Ternita Kassim
Phone: 301-539-4720

Leonardtown Campus
Megan Rabie
Phone: 240-725-5420

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Renata Zgorski
Phone: 443-550-6009
Fax: 443-550-6100

The law regarding disabilities in the academic setting is always being reevaluated. Since the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 were passed, there have been many court cases that have caused lawmakers to refine and, in some cases, change the meaning of discrimination against people with disabilities. In 2010, the ADA was revised to make it more clear exactly what constitutes discrimination against people with disabilities. However, even though the law has been revised, discrimination still does occur, and sometimes it is necessary to take an academic institution to court to rectify the situation. Below are some recent court cases involving American colleges and universities and students with disabilities. Click on the title of the case to read more.

Virtual Accessibility

Michael Argenyi v. Creighton University

December 2013 – Argenyi won the chance to complete medical school after a four year court battle. He had used cued speech and the Communication Access Real-time Transcription (CART) system since he was very young. Upon application to Creighton University’s medical school, he requested support using these as a part of his reasonable accommodation. The university offered alternative systems, none of which worked for Argenyi. Despite continued requests for the accommodations that would allow Argenyi to be successful, the university did not comply. Argenyi could not keep up with his schoolwork because the accommodations offered to him were not sufficient for him. After an appeal, the court decided that the university had discriminated against Argenyi by not giving him equal access to classes, and that the university must provide Argenyi with the accommodations he needed.

Louisiana Tech University

July 2013 – Louisiana Tech University was using a version of an online classroom that was inaccessible for a blind student. Although they corrected the issue after one month, the student was already too far behind to catch up and was forced to withdraw from the course. This case led to the University overhauling its disability-related policies, and updating its website and other online material to be accessible to students with visual impairments.

Authors Guild v. HathiTrust

October 2012 – This case concerns whether it is legal to digitize copyrighted material for accessibility purposes. The Authors Guild did not want copyrighted material to be digitized, but the court decided that HathiTrust could make digital versions to make books and other printed materials more accessible for people with disabilities.

Case Western Reserve University, Pace University, Reed College

January 2010 – This case determined that universities will not purchase e-readers for use by students with disabilities unless they are fully accessible to students who are blind or have low vision and provide access to the same materials available to other students.

Physical Accessibility

McNeese State University

September 2010 – McNeese State University did not provide an accessible restroom in its student services building. The case ruled that the University must update its facilities to accommodate all students, display information on its website regarding accessibility and safety and security measures, and designate an ADA coordinator to ensure ADA compliance.

Chatham University

December 2008 – Chatham University was found to have major accessibility issues throughout its campus, including in newly-constructed facilities. The University agreed to undertake a five-year remodeling plan to remedy the issues, including accessible entrances, paths, counters, and alarm systems, among others.

University of Michigan

March 2008 – This case resolves an issue at the University of Michigan regarding wheelchair-accessible seating and procedures in its football stadium, which was being renovated. The resolution more than doubled the number of wheelchair and companion seats and gave fans more locations from which to choose.

University of Chicago

July 2006 – Facilities at the University of Chicago were found to have accessibility issues throughout the campus. The University was required to revamp its facilities to comply with ADA regulations.

Other Cases Regarding Disability and Equal Access

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

March 2013 – The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey revoked the previously accepted applications of two students with Hepatitis B. The ruling requires the University to re-accept and compensate the students, as well as adopt a disability policy that reflects accurate disability information and minimizes potential discrimination against any minority or racial groups.

Lesley University

December 2012 – This case concerns food service at Lesley University for students with celiac disease and other food allergies. The ruling requires the University to provide gluten-free and allergen-free food options and meal plans to students at all times, maintain an allergen-free space for food storage and preparation, display notices regarding potential allergens, and provide allergy training to staff.