Title IX Also Covers Blind and Visually Impaired

By: Adria Lynn Silva on December 16, 2021


Title IX is generally thought of as an anti-gender discrimination in education law. However, Title IX also prohibits discrimination against the blind and visually impaired in educational programs or institutions that accept federal funding. Specifically Title IX states:

No person in the United States shall, on the ground of blindness or severely impaired vision, be denied admission in any course of study by a recipient of Federal financial assistance for any education program or activity, but nothing herein shall be construed to require any such institution to provide any special services to such person because of his blindness or visual impairment.
20 U.S.C. Section 1684.

Section 1684 cases seem to turn on the phrase denied admission in any course of study. This language limits the types of cases that can be brought on behalf of blind and visually impaired students to cases involving admissions only. See e.g., Hernandez v. Tuner, 2010 WL 2650408 (D.P.R. June 30, 2010)( Title IX claim dismissed because plaintiff failed to plead a prima facie case under Section 1684: “First, that the School receives federal financial assistance; (2) that the plaintiff suffers from blindness or severely impaired vision; and (3) that denial of admission was due to that blindness or severely impaired vision”). Title IX likely does not apply to reasonable accommodations for the blind and visually impaired student, but other laws like the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act may.