Celebrating 50 Years of the Rehabilitation Act: A Path to Inclusive Education

A group of people--disabled and not disabled--protesting for change. The image has a blue filter.

By Lindsay Kubatzky, Director of Policy & Advocacy  

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a landmark legislation that has transformed education for students with disabilities. As we commemorate this milestone, we reflect on our progress and the work still ahead, particularly in ensuring that all students receive a free and appropriate public education. 

At the heart of this endeavor is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, a critical provision that guarantees reasonable accommodations, removing barriers in schools, colleges, and universities, especially for students with learning disabilities.

Over the past five decades, we’ve made significant strides in fostering inclusivity in education. Physical barriers have been dismantled, and awareness has grown. Inclusion is now a core principle, promoting diversity and understanding in our schools.

However, challenges persist. Systemic barriers, lack of awareness, and resource shortages still hinder Section 504’s full implementation. The transition from K-12 to higher education can also be daunting for students with disabilities.

As we celebrate this incredible milestone, let’s renew our commitment to equitable education:

  • Raise Awareness
  • Increase Accessibility 
  • Offer Comprehensive Support
  • Advocate for Change 

Let’s break down remaining barriers and ensure every student enjoys a free and appropriate public education.