Rehabilitation Act

The Rehabilitation Act is the Federal legislation that authorizes the formula grant programs of vocational rehabilitation, supported employment, independent living, and client assistance. The Act also includes several sections (501, 503, 504 & 508) concerning rights, advocacy, access and protections for individuals with disabilities. Specifically, the Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted and funded by the Federal government (504). It covers discrimination in Federal employment, and in the employment practices of Federal contractors (501 & 503). Also, it requires Federal electronic and information technology to be accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public (508). Due to the scope of the Act, we have provided links to both the full text of the law, as well as information on specific sections covering access and protections for people with disabilities.

Full text of the law:

The Rehabilitation Act

Resources & Compliance

The State of California accepts no responsibility for the content or accessibility of the external websites or external documents linked to on this website.

Section 501 Federal employment

Section 501 requires affirmative action and nondiscrimination in employment by Federal agencies of the executive branch. The standards for determining employment discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act are the same as those used in Title I of the ADA

Section 501 Compliance

To obtain more information or to file a complaint, Federal employees should contact their agency's Equal Employment Opportunity Office.

Section 503 Employment by Federal Contractors

Section 503 requires affirmative action and prohibits employment discrimination by Federal government contractors and subcontractors with contracts of more than $10,000.

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room C-3325
Washington, D.C. 20210
(202) 693-0106 (voice/relay)

Section 503 Compliance

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room C-3325
Washington, D.C. 20210
(202) 693-0106 (voice/relay)

Section 504 non-discrimination in programs conducted and funded by the Federal government

Section 504 states that "no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under" any program or activity that either receives Federal financial assistance or is conducted by any Executive agency or the United States Postal Service. Each Federal agency has its own set of section 504 regulations that apply to its own programs. Agencies that provide Federal financial assistance also have section 504 regulations covering entities that receive Federal aid. Requirements common to these regulations include reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities; program accessibility; effective communication with people who have hearing or vision disabilities; and accessible new construction and alterations.

Section 504 Compliance

Each agency is responsible for enforcing its own regulations. Section 504 may also be enforced through private lawsuits. It is not necessary to file a complaint with a Federal agency or to receive a "right-to-sue" letter before going to court.

For information on how to file 504 complaints with the appropriate agency, contact:

Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 22035-6738
(800) 514-0301 (voice)
(800) 514-0383 (TTY)

Section 508 Requires Federal electronic and information technology be accessible to people with disabilities

Section 508 established requirements for electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the Federal government and stipulates such technology to be accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public. An accessible information technology system is one that can be operated in a variety of ways and does not rely on a single sense or ability of the user. The term "electronic and information technology" has been defined by the United States Access Board (U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board) in regulations published December 21, 2000. Some individuals with disabilities may need accessibility-related software or peripheral devices in order to use systems that comply with Section 508. Section 508 exempts national security systems from its requirements.

Note: The procurement standards from Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act has been referenced in State Law via California Government Code Section 11135-11139.8

508 Home Page - Department of Justice
E-mail: sec508.questions@usdoj.gov
Voice mail: 202-305-8304
TTY mail: 202-353-8944
Facsimile: (202) 307-1198

The United States Access Board is an independent Federal agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities. The Access Board is responsible for: maintaining accessibility requirements for the built environment, transit vehicles, telecommunications equipment, and for electronic and information technology; providing technical assistance and training on these guidelines and standards and enforcing accessibility standards for federally funded facilities.

U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (U.S. Access Board)
1331 F Street, N.W. Suite 1000
Washington, D.C. 20004-1111
800-872-2253 (voice)
800-993-2822 (TTY)

U.S. General Services Administration Center for IT Accommodation (CITA)
1800 F Street, N.W., Room 1234, MC: MKC
Washington, D.C. 20405-0001
(202) 501-4906 (voice)
(202) 501-2010 (TTY)

For website accessibility by persons with disabilities.
The Web Access Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium.

Section 508 Compliance

Complaints should be filed with the Federal department or agency alleged to be in non-compliance.

For information on how to file 508 complaints with the appropriate agency, contact:

Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 22035-6738
(800) 514-0301 (voice)
(800) 514-0383 (TTY)