Book by Russo, Charles J. and Osborne Jr, Allan G
Review by Nicole Lemmon
Academic Advisor, Undergraduate Academic Advising Center
To best serve students with disabilities, academic advisors should have a basic understanding of the laws that protect this population – this is why Section 504 and the ADA relates to academic advising. The book intends to “make practitioners more aware of how the various requirements of Section 504 and the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] impact the rights of individuals with disabilities in school settings, however broadly construed, in the hope that the educators who understand these laws will be in a better position to meet their myriad legal requirements” (xi).
The authors succeed in creating a precise, yet broad, reference book, but its breadth and focus makes it only somewhat useful for the academic advisor. Although the book covers higher education applications, much of the focus is on the K-12 setting. Where the book does refer to higher education, it does so from the perspective of legal institutional responsibility, rather than from the perspective of counseling students. Section 504 and the ADA would best function as a tool for those whose duties include legal compliance, such as principals or ADA coordinators, rather than as a primary tool for the academic advisor. Nonetheless, sections of the book are relevant for the advising professional.
Chapters one, two, and section three of the third chapter, is not geared towards the academic advisor specifically, it is applicable to the higher education professional generally. In the first two chapters, the reader gains a basic understanding of the historical development and current standing of the laws protecting individuals with disabilities. According to the parameters of the ADA and Section 504, “educational institutions must provide reasonable accommodations if doing so allows individuals with disabilities to access or participate in their programs and services [and] individuals who are “otherwise qualified,” meaning that they are eligible to participate in programs or activities despite the existence of their impairments, which must be permitted to take part as long as it is possible to do so by means of “reasonable accommodation[s]” ” (24, 29). The third section of chapter three describes eight examples of cases in which students had brought litigation against higher education institutions citing denial of “reasonable accommodations.” In seven of the eight cases, schools were found not liable, including a case of a blind student who was denied access to medical school and a law school student who could not advance to the next level due to G.P.A. reasons.
Section 504 and the ADA provides a small piece of the puzzle for the academic advisor. It is not a primary reference for advisors as it will not assist, nor so does it claim to assist, them with understanding best practices for advising students with disabilities. Still, chapters one, two, and section three of the third chapter are well-organized enough to make quick reads that are probably worth it. In reading these sections, advisors may broaden their understanding of history, the law, and institutional responsibility as they relate to students with disabilities. And, as advisors, we are most effective when we understand the larger picture that surrounds and affects our students.
Section 504 and the ADA (2009). Book by Russo, Charles J. and Osborne Jr, Allan G. Review by Nicole Lemmon. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. 129 pp. $26.95 ISBN 978-1-4129-5509-6