Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states:
“No otherwise qualified person with a disability in the United States … shall, solely by reason of … disability, be denied the benefits of, be excluded from participation in, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance….”

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 in terms of post secondary education reinforces the requirements of Section 504 and under Title III extends the requirements of equal program access to private colleges and universities that might have previously been exempt from the Section 504 mandate.

An individual can be recognized as a person with a disability under the Section 504 Rehabilitation Act of 1973, under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.

Anyone who has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activity, anyone who has a history of such an impairment or anyone who is regarded as having such an impairment.

Major life activities:

Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.

A major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.  

Qualified person with a disability...
Another important phrase is "a qualified person with a disability" which has been defined as one "who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the education program or activity."