Postsecondary and Vocational Education Programs and the “Otherwise Qualified” Provision of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

While the Rehabilitation Act defines a “handicapped individual,” neither the language of section 504 nor its legislative history sheds much light on the exact meaning of the term ”otherwise qualified handicapped individual.” This article will argue that the definition of this term must be broad enough to include severely handicapped persons, the primary group that Congress intended to benefit and protect in enacting section 504. Focussing on the area of postsecondary education, this article will argue that the interpretation developed in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) Regulation most effectively fulfills the purposes which Congress intended in enacting section 504. The article examines who is a qualified handicapped student entitled to non- . discriminatory admission to and participation in college, university, and vocational programs. The article also examines the challenges to affirmative duties placed upon schools which admit handicapped applicants.