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What Is A Disability According To The Ada

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What Qualifies As An Ada Disability

Recent Changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

According to the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, covered entities should interpret the ADA broadly to include as many disabilities as possible and protect as many people as possible.

Under the ADA, an impairment needs to be a physiological or mental disorder. Depression, stress, and similar conditions are only sometimes considered impairments under the ADA. Whether depression and stress are considered impairments depends on if they result from a documented mental or physiological disorder or if they result from personal life or job pressures. The impairment must substantially limit at least one major life activity.

What Does It Mean To Be A Current Substance Abuser

The point of ADA is to protect workers from workplace discrimination. One of the difficulties is assessing what is current abuse of drugs or alcohol. The nuances of this law can create a tricky case. These situations are determined case-by-case. Every part of a substance abuse discrimination case is important to understand how it falls under the law.

The ADA has a few points to guide their decision of whether or not an employee is a current substance abuser.

  • A positive drug test means a current user.
  • Current drug use is anytime the use has occurred recently enough that the employer believes there is ongoing substance problem.
  • The idea of current is not limited by any specific timeline, whether day of use or recent weeks.

For every case, the outcome is determined according to the other factors involved, the period of time known for substance abuse, and possible rehabilitation. Such an involved and intricate process seems likely to be subjective, and it may be wise to consult an employment lawyer.

Can I Get Additional Ada Information And Assistance

The EEOC conducts an active technical assistance program to promote voluntary compliance with the ADA. This program is designed to help people with disabilities understand their rights and to help employers understand their responsibilities under the law.

In January 1992, EEOC published a Technical Assistance Manual, providing practical application of legal requirements to specific employment activities, with a directory of resources to aid compliance. EEOC publishes other educational materials, provides training on the law for people with disabilities and for employers, and participates in meetings and training programs of other organizations. EEOC staff also will respond to individual requests for information and assistance. The Commission’s technical assistance program is separate and distinct from its enforcement responsibilities. Employers who seek information or assistance from the Commission will not be subject to any enforcement action because of such inquiries.

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What Are Considered As Disabilities Under The Ada

Although the ADA provides a definition of disability, there are no regulations stating all the specific conditions considered as physical or mental impairments in the ADA. Due to the possibility of new disorders in the future, it will be difficult to come up with a definitive and updated list of specific conditions that classify as a disability.

The ADA mentioned some examples of impairments considered as disabilities. These conditions are the following:

  • AIDS, HIV and its symptoms
  • Asthma
  • Sprained joints

Length Of Time Or Duration Of A Disability

History of Special Education timeline

Conditions and/or impairments that are short-term do not meet the definition of a disability under the ADA, even if the condition meets the other criteria: substantial impact on major life activities.


Evan injured his back and is required to limit most physical activities for at least a week. He is in pain and must take medication. However, he is expected to fully recover in 2 weeks.

Even though the impact of Evan’s condition is substantial, the impact is short-term and would not be considered a disability under the ADA.


Shawna became very ill with a life-threatening infection. She spent two days in the hospital before returning to work 1/2 days for a week. She then returned to work full time. Her infection is gone and she requires no extended treatment.

Although the impact of the condition was life-threatening, the impact was short-term with a full recovery. Shawna would not be considered a person with a disability under the ADA.


Glenda was in a car accident. Her injuries were severe and she will require rehabilitation. Although Glenda is expected to fully recover, she will use a wheelchair and then a cane for at least six months.

Glenda’s injuries will not have a permanent impact on major life activities. However, she is covered under the ADA because of the length of time that her condition impacts major life activities.

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What Is Reasonable Accommodation

Reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities. For example, reasonable accommodation may include:

  • providing or modifying equipment or devices,
  • job restructuring,
  • part-time or modified work schedules,
  • reassignment to a vacant position,
  • adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials, or policies,
  • providing readers and interpreters, and
  • making the workplace readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.

An employer is required to provide a reasonable accommodation to a qualified applicant or employee with a disability unless the employer can show that the accommodation would be an undue hardship — that is, that it would require significant difficulty or expense.

The Ada Definition Of Disability

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects people with disabilities from unfair treatment. Protected areas include:

  • State and local government services
  • Places of public accommodation
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation

The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees. This includes state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and labor unions.

Who does the ADA protect?

A person with a disability is someone who:

  • Has a physical or mental impairment that greatly limits one or more major life activities
  • Has a record of such an impairment or
  • Is regarded as having such an impairment.

An impairment is measured when the condition is most severe. If you are only sometimes impaired, the ADA will look at when your symptoms show the most.

There are two essential parts:

  • You must have a physical or mental impairment and
  • The impairment must largely keep you from doing major life activities.

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Americans With Disabilities Act Of 1990

Parts of this article need to be . Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

Long title
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1989
Enacted by
  • Passed the Senate on September 7, 1989
  • Passed the House on May 22, 1990
  • Reported by the joint conference committee on July 12, 1990 agreed to by the House on July 12, 1990 and by the Senate on July 13, 1990
  • Signed into law by PresidentGeorge H. W. Bushon July 26, 1990
Major amendments
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 or ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It affords similar protections against discrimination to Americans with disabilities as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal, and later sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition, unlike the Civil Rights Act, the ADA also requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and imposes accessibility requirements on public accommodations.

What Is Considered A Disability Under The Ada

What is the ADA? Three Milestones to Celebrate

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. It ensures equal opportunity in employment for disabled persons. The statute specifically provides that:

No covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.ADA, 42 U.S.C. §12112.

The main question is what constitutes a disability under the ADA? The term disability can encompass a lot. As defined by the ADA, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual, a record of such an impairment or being regarded as having such an impairment. The definition can be broken down further. 42 U.S.C. §12102.

First, a disability can be a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. A major life activity can include walking, caring for oneself, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, etc. A major life activity can also include the operation of a bodily function, such as the immune system, digestive system, brain, respiratory system, etc. 42 U.S.C. §12102.

So what are the most common examples of disabilities?

1. Back/Spinal Injury4. Heart Impairments5. Hearing Impairments

42 U.S.C. §12211.

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Barden V The City Of Sacramento

Barden v. The City of Sacramento, filed in March 1999, claimed that the City of Sacramento failed to comply with the ADA when, while making public street improvements, it did not bring its sidewalks into compliance with the ADA. Certain issues were resolved in Federal Court. One issue, whether sidewalks were covered by the ADA, was appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that sidewalks were a “program” under ADA and must be made accessible to persons with disabilities. The ruling was later appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case, letting stand the ruling of the 9th Circuit Court.

What Is Considered A Disability

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, an individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

The ADA does not set forth an exclusive list of conditions it covers. The regulations define physical or mental impairment as any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement or anatomical loss affecting one or more body systems, such as neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory , cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, immune, circulatory, hemic, lymphatic, skin and endocrine. The regulations also cover any mental or psychological disorder, such as intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness and specific learning disabilities.

Although there is not an exhaustive list of disabilities under the ADA, the regulations identify medical conditions that would easily be considered a disability within the meaning of the law. These medical conditions include:

  • Auditory processing challenges
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sensory processing challenges

In the context of the ADA, disability is a legal term rather than a medical one. Because disability has a legal definition, the ADAs definition of disability differs from how disability is defined under some other laws.

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What Is Section 508 Of The Rehabilitation Act

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained or used by the federal government must be accessible to people with disabilities, unless it would pose an undue burden to do so. This relates to both employees of federal agencies and customers of federal agencies who use information technology devices to access government information and interact with government agencies. Comprehensive information about Section 508 can be found on the Section 508 website maintained by the General Services Administration .

If You Think A School Employer Or Business Isnt Following Ada You Can File A Complaint


To file a complaint, you have to write to the federal agency that oversees the organization. The U.S. Department of Education oversees public schools. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is responsible for employers.

In other situations, such as camps, sport clubs or taking the SAT, you can complain to the U.S. Department of Justice. If you arent satisfied with those results, you can also file a civil lawsuit.

You may find that other laws protect your childs rights more than ADA. But there may be times when ADA comes into play. Understanding this federal law will make it easier for your child to live a full and productive life outside of school.

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Mental Health Disabilities And Addictions

Although mental health disability is a form of non-evident disability, it raises particular issues that merit independent consideration. Section 10 of the Code expressly includes mental health disabilities. The courts have confirmed that addictions to drugs or alcohol are protected by the Code. People with mental health disabilities and addictions face a high degree of stigmatization and significant barriers. Stigmatization can foster a climate that exacerbates stress, and may trigger or worsen the persons condition. It may also mean that someone who has a problem and needs help may not seek it, for fear of being labelled.

The distinct and serious issues faced by people with mental health disabilities and addictions prompted the OHRC to hold a province-wide consultation specifically on discrimination based on mental health. In 2012, the OHRC published its findings in a consultation report entitled Minds That Matter. The OHRC relied on these findings, as well as on developments in the law, international trends and social science research to inform its Policy on preventing discrimination based on mental health disabilities and addictions , which was released in 2014.

The OHRCs Mental Health Policy provides user-friendly guidance to organizations on how to define, assess, handle and resolve human rights issues related to mental health and addiction disabilities. It also addresses:

What Does It Mean To Reclaim A Word And Why Is Reclaiming Important

When members of a group reclaim a word, they take a term that was used against them as a slur and give it a positive meaning, within that particular group, as an expression of solidarity and pride in ones identity. Some members of the LGBTQ community have reclaimed the term queer, a longtime degrading term for LGBTQ people. Similarly, some disability cultural groups have reclaimed negative terms like crip. However, in some cases, reclaimed terms may be very context-dependent, continuing to retain their original, negative connotations outside of the communities that seek to reclaim them. While it may be appropriate for someone who is a member of a group to use a term in a reclaimed way, it may not be appropriate for someone outside of the group to use a reclaimed word.

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Equipment Or Work Environment Changes

Simple equipment or work environment changes can often make a major difference for an employee with a disability. For example, an employer may lower workstations to accommodate people in wheelchairs.

Another example is the purchase of special software that magnifies the computer screen, making it easier for people with vision problems to perform their job duties.

What Is The Definition Of Disability Under The Ada

What is the ADA? Basics and Definitions of the Americans with Disabilities Act

It is important to remember that in the context of the ADA, disability is a legal term rather than a medical one. Because it has a legal definition, the ADAs definition of disability is different from how disability is defined under some other laws, such as for Social Security Disability related benefits.

The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability. The ADA also makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person based on that persons association with a person with a disability.

For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

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Who Does The Americans With Disabilities Act Protect

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a law that guarantees everyone has the same opportunity to enjoy and participate in American life. A person with a disability under the law is someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more life activities. Life activities include learning, working, self care, performing manual tasks, walking, hearing and many more. How long a persons impairment lasts is a factor used to decide if a person is considered disabled under the ADA. Impairments that last only for a short period of time are typically not covered, although they may be covered if very severe. A person may be protected under this law based on an existing disability, a record of a disability, or because she is perceived by others as having a disability.

The ADA protects people with disabilities in public accommodations. Examples of public accommodations include doctors offices, theaters, hotels, restaurants and retail stores. Existing facilities must ensure that individuals are not excluded so long as there is not an undue hardship on the owner. This is accomplished by modifying existing facilities, constructing additional facilities, or relocating to an accessible building. All new construction of places of public accommodations must be accessible. For example, public buildings should provide access for wheelchairs.

Campbell V General Dynamics Government Systems Corp

Campbell v. General Dynamics Government Systems Corp. concerned the enforceability of a mandatory arbitration agreement, contained in a dispute resolution policy linked to an e-mailed company-wide announcement, insofar as it applies to employment discrimination claims brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Us Airways Inc V Barnett

Decided by the US Supreme Court in 2002, this case held that even requests for accommodation that might seem reasonable on their face, e.g., a transfer to a different position, can be rendered unreasonable because it would require a violation of the company’s seniority system. While the court held that, in general, a violation of a seniority system renders an otherwise reasonable accommodation unreasonable, a plaintiff can present evidence that, despite the seniority system, the accommodation is reasonable in the specific case at hand, e.g., the plaintiff could offer evidence that the seniority system is so often disregarded that another exception wouldn’t make a difference.

Importantly, the court held that the defendant need not provide proof that this particular application of the seniority system should prevail, and that, once the defendant showed that the accommodation violated the seniority system, it fell to Barnett to show it was nevertheless reasonable.

In this case, Barnett was a US Airways employee who injured his back, rendering him physically unable to perform his cargo-handling job. Invoking seniority, he transferred to a less-demanding mailroom job, but this position later became open to seniority-based bidding and was bid on by more senior employees. Barnett requested the accommodation of being allowed to stay on in the less-demanding mailroom job. US Airways denied his request, and he lost his job.

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