The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (H.R. 8070, replacing Vocational Rehabilitation Act), while less known in the wider transportation world than the Americans with Disabilities Act, remains an important Federal mandate and philosophical foundation for persons with disabilities.
Although previous legislation, such as the Architectural Barriers Act (1968) had addressed issues such as access to Federal facilities, the turning point for mobility independence came with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, which requires “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance.” The law was further amended in 1978 (see 29 U.S.C. 794; see the current 504 regulations for transportation in 49 CFR Part 27) to more explicitly include transit facilities, but as later protests revealed, it was not until the 1990 American with Disabilities Act, and the expansion of accessibility to all public facilities.
Unlike the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act includes with it funding and a means for granting funds to local jurisdictions.
Updated October 2018