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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

HHS Issues a Historic Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects people from discrimination and prevents discrimination in programs that receive federal funding.

Yesterday, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra hosted a press conference to announce a rule proposed by the HHS Office for Civil Rights that would update these regulations. This is the first time these critical regulations will have been updated since they were originally signed in 1977 after 4 years of tireless advocacy and a 28-day protest led by disability civil rights leaders.

Updates to the rule include:

  • Clarifies obligations to provide services in the most integrated setting appropriate to a person’s needs, consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C. 
  • Ensures that medical treatment decisions are not based on biases or stereotypes about people with disabilities, judgments that an individual will be a burden on others, or beliefs that the life of an individual with a disability has less value than the life of a person without a disability.
  • Adopts Standards for accessible diagnostic medical treatment
  • Adopts the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, Level AA accessibility standards for websites and mobile applications.
  • Clarifies requirements in HHS-funded child welfare programs and activities to help eliminate discriminatory barriers faced by children, parents, caregivers, foster parents, and prospective parents with disabilities
  • Prohibits the use of value of life assessments in treatment decisions

NCIL applauds the work of HHS for this historic NPRM. Special thank you to Secretary Becerra, Alison Barkoff and many others for their hard work drafting the rule.

Read the official announcement, full rule, fact sheet, and instructions on how to provide comments at

NCIL will share further information in the next few weeks as we review the rule and will be submitting comments.

If you have any questions, please contact NCIL Director of Advocacy and Public Policy Jessica Podesva and [email protected].