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- Disability Nondiscrimination Law Advisor

Qualified Individual with a Disability

A "qualified individual with a disability" in the context of employment or employment-related training means a person with a disability who satisfies the job-related requirements of the employment position he or she holds or is applying for, or the eligibility requirements for participation in the training, and who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential job functions of that position or training program.

Federal disability nondiscrimination laws use a similar definition of a "qualified" individual with a disability. While the precise wording of each definition may differ from regulation to regulation, the essential meaning of the term remains the same. The following list explains where the definition of "qualified" individual with a disability may be found in the regulations implementing each of the listed statutes.

  • Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended - 29 CFR 1630.2(m)
  • Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended - 28 CFR 35.104. Title II adopts the employment standards of Title I of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. State and local government employers that are not subject to ADA Title I must follow the regulations implementing Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act that have been issued by the appropriate Federal agency - 28 CFR 35.140 .
  • Section 188 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act - 29 CFR 38.4
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended - 29 CFR 32.3 of the Department of Labor's (DOL) regulations. DOL's Section 504 regulations are for recipients of DOL financial assistance. If your business or organization receives financial assistance from another Federal agency, be sure to consult that agency's 504 regulations. This regulatory definition provides additional context in terms of employment-related training or eligibility requirements for participation in training. Note that the Section 504 regulations use the term "qualified" handicapped individual instead of "qualified" individual with a disability. This is because back in the early 1970s when the regulations were published, the term "handicapped" was used commonly to refer to people with disabilities, and in fact was employed by Congress throughout the original version of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. Today, the term "handicapped" is generally regarded as a negative term. This advisor uses the modern term "disability" rather than "handicap" when describing Section 504 requirements.
  • Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended - 41 CFR 60-741.2(t)

A "qualified individual with a disability" with respect to services means a person with a disability who meets the relevant eligibility requirements for receipt of such aid, benefits, services.

Other Federal laws use the same or virtually the same definition with respect to aid benefits, services or training. See exact regulatory text for the following applicable regulations:

  • Section 188 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act - 29 CFR 38.4
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended - 29 CFR 32.4 of the Department of Labor's (DOL) regulations. DOL's Section 504 regulations are for recipients of DOL financial assistance. If your business or organization receives financial assistance from another Federal agency, be sure to consult that agency's 504 regulations. Note that the Section 504 regulations use the term "qualified" handicapped individual instead of "qualified" individual with a disability. This is because back in the early 1970s when the regulations were published, the term "handicapped" was used commonly to refer to people with disabilities, and in fact was employed by Congress throughout the original version of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. Today, the term "handicapped" is generally regarded as a negative term. This advisor uses the modern term "disability" rather than "handicap" when describing Section 504 requirements.


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