Schools, colleges, and universities are required to provide equal access to their educational programs to all students, including those with disabilities. All elementary and secondary schools and most post-secondary educational institutions are regulated under two Federal laws governing accessibility of education: Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as amended in 1998).
The requirements of Section 504 and Title II of the ADA specify that institutions must be responsive to the needs of individual students and make programs and services accessible to them on request, rather than ensure that all programs are accessible from the outset. However, the settlements made between educational systems and the U.S. Department of Education in response to complaints of disability discrimination have sometimes required the educational institutions to make systemic and proactive changes in their procurement and use of instructional materials to ensure that textbooks and educational technology are accessible to students with disabilities. Creating an accessible NSDL makes sense in this context.