On November 13th, 2023, FISA Foundation submitted Public Comment in support of the Proposed Rule to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. As a grantmaking organization with a key focus on improving the health and well-being of people with disabilities, we strongly support updates to Section 504 that strengthen protections for people with disabilities and advance access to healthcare for people with disabilities. Click below to read the full public comment:
What is the Rehabilitation Act of 1973? What is Section 504?
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was signed 50 years ago. It was one of the nation’s first federal laws to address the civil rights of people with disabilities. The Act includes several sections concerning advocacy, access, and protections for individuals with disabilities. Section 504 is the statute of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that specifically prohibits disability discrimination in programs and activities that receive federal funding or are conducted by a federal agency.
What is the Proposed Rule?
The proposed rule updates the regulations of Section 504 to clarify several areas that are not currently explicitly addressed. Overall, the proposed rule adds language to prohibit disability discrimination and address access barriers in the following areas: medical treatment, value assessment methods, child welfare programs and activities, web and mobile accessibility, accessible medical equipment, and integrated-service settings. The proposed rule also aims to improve consistency with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as other judicial and legislative developments. Read a summary of the Proposed Rule Update here.
Why are updates to Section 504 Important?
The proposed rule is the first comprehensive update to the regulations since they were first put in place over 40 years ago. The changes to Section 504 would strengthen protections for people with disabilities and reflects years of advocacy from the disability community. The proposed changes represent significant strides in improving access to quality healthcare for people with disabilities.
What is the role of Public Comment?
Public Comment is an opportunity for the public to provide input on the federal rule-making process. With public comment, federal agencies are looking for any important information that is relevant to the proposed actions in the regulation. Public comments can include individual impact, community impact, scientific research related to the proposed rule. During the public comment period for the Section 504 proposed rule, FISA Foundation submitted a public comment to express support of the proposed changes, highlighting examples in healthcare that limit accessibility and quality care.