Difference Between ADA and Section 504 (With Table)

According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, people with disabilities had to meet specific requirements before employment. Individuals who have a mental or physical impairment are protected under both acts from being discriminated against in any way. According to the law, anything that severely hinders vital everyday tasks such as walking, seeing, or hearing is considered a handicap. Despite their fundamental similarities, the scope and implementation of the two legislation are fundamentally different.

ADA vs Section 504

The main difference between the ADA and Section 504 is that Section 504 can only be accessible by those affiliated with any institution that accepts federal funds, valid for most post-secondary educational institutions. Individuals attending private post-secondary schools who do not get government help are not subject to the more stringent 504 or ADA Title II standards. Following Title III of the ADA, these schools are subject to a less demanding requirement.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 grants equal civil rights protections to people with disabilities of all races, genders, nationalities, and religions. (ADA). It ensures that persons with disabilities have equal access to all aspects of society, whether employment, transportation, government services, housing, or any other type of accommodation.

Using physical imparity as a basis for discrimination is prohibited by Section 504 (as modified) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Public elementary & secondary schools, as well as religious institutions, are covered by this rule. Because Section 504’s definition of disability is more expansive, disabled children may qualify for special education & related services.

Comparison Table Between ADA and Section 504

Parameters of ComparisonADASection 504
Applies on Organizations that receive government funding.This rule applies to organizations that receive funds from the federal, state, or private sectors, among other sources.
AccessA free & adequate public education is not the obligation of this state, which does not have the authority to enforce this mandate on its citizensAll students must have access to the free and adequate public education under their direct supervision.
Placement criteriaThere are no explicit evaluation or placement criteria specified in this document.For the review procedure, you will need to provide notice and consent.
Enforced byThe United States Department of Justice is responsible for this investigation.It is located under the United States Department of Education, in the Office for Civil Rights.
Enacted on1992.1973.

What is ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to virtually every institution in the United States, regardless of whether it receives government aid. The only two institutions exempt from the ADA are religious organizations and private clubs. Since they don’t get federal financing, private schools that aren’t religiously linked may be excluded from Section 504’s requirements but must comply with the ADA.

Discrimination based on a person’s disability is addressed in various parts of the ADA. Title, I of the Civil Rights Act, prohibits discrimination in the workplace, and title II includes state and municipal governments and schools among its provisions. Title III has set its sights on many public organizations, including hotel and restaurant companies, department stores, markets, and banking establishments. Access to goods and services for people with disabilities must be guaranteed under the Act.

It was enacted in 1990, albeit most of the provisions did not take effect until the following year. Although it is not exhaustive, it does go into great detail on the regulatory requirements of employers, complaint procedures, and the ramifications of dissent in both employment and services.

What is Section 504?

It prohibits discrimination against persons who meet the criterion of disability established by the Act, and it applies to organizations receiving federal funding. “Respect the principles of basic justice by ensuring that government money is not used in a biassed manner,” according to Wegner, was the primary purpose of Congress when it passed Section 504. Equal opportunities should be provided to all pupils, regardless of their physical condition, for them to accomplish the same result, gain the same benefit, or achieve the same level of achievement. 

Because most public schools receive considerable federal funds due to their participation in various federally supported programs, they must comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. In 1973, Congress enacted Internal Revenue Code Section 504. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that parents be told when their children are identified, evaluated, and placed in foster care. Documents should include some notification or report on them.

A report is required only in the event of a substantial shift in an assignment. Section 504’s two principal goals are to ban disability discrimination and offer free, adequate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities in grades K–12. To ensure that academic requirements do not discriminate against qualified students and candidates with disabilities, academic accommodations must be made for those who qualify.

Main Differences Between ADA and Section 504

  1. Section 504 benefits are available to any organizations that receive government financial assistance. Organizations that receive funding from the federal, state, or private sectors, on the other hand, are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  2. For the first time since Section 504, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not impose a direct requirement on the federal government to ensure that everyone has access to a free and adequate public educational opportunity.
  3. No particular evaluation or placement criteria are specified under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in any way. Notice and consent are required under Section 504 for the review process. However, this is not required under Section 505.
  4. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights ensures that Section 504 is followed. Although the ADA is a federal law, the US Department of Justice is responsible for enforcing it.
  5. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was adopted by Congress to protect people with disabilities. However, most Americans with Disabilities Act requirements did not take effect until 1992, even though it was passed in 1990.


Students and their supporters must be aware of their rights and responsibilities in post-secondary education. While safeguards are in place, the student bears a lot larger responsibility for seeking and designing their modifications than their parents or guardians. As a result, this is an ongoing commitment.

The success of many students with disabilities will be dependent on their ability to advocate for themselves, and understanding your rights is one of the most crucial parts of effective self-advocacy. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the United States Constitution are disability-related statutes that can be evaluated by anybody who meets the requirements of those laws. Even though they are based on distinct criteria, these two may appear nearly identical in practically every respect.


  1. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/jcolunly23&section=5
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=TcMhAQAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=ADA+and+Section+504&ots=jVX2ZahZ_V&sig=b2tmpnvsyOtHvGETMNkcywpdh3M