American Disability Act

The American Disability Act of 1990 (ADA), also referred to as the Americans with Disabilities Act sets forth clear regulations regarding disability. This act was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush and in September 2008 an amendment was signed into law by President George W. Bush with the changes effective on January 1, 2009.

Handicap is broadly defined in the dictionary as a disability, a physical, mental or emotional condition that interferes with one’s normal functioning. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines disability as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities." Under this act certain conditions are excluded and not considered disabilities. Visual impairment that can be corrected by prescription lenses, current substance abuse are examples of such excluded conditions.
The determination of whether a specific condition is considered a disability is made on a case-by-case basis.

The ADA is a range of civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability under certain circumstances. It is often compared to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states that discrimination based on race, religion, sex national origin and other characteristics illegal.

The American Disability Act (ADA) addresses issues of employment such as job application procedures, hiring, job training, advancement and discharge of employees, workers' compensation, and other terms, and conditions. For public accommodations and commercial facilities, under the ADA all "new construction" whether its modification, alteration or construction must comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines. The ADA also requires all US telecommunication companies to ensure equivalent services for consumers with disabilities (the deaf or hard of hearing and people with speech impairments).

American Disability Act Amendments

The 2008 amendment signed into law by President George W. Bush seeks to provide more protection for disabled workers, more specifically overturn two provisions found the original ADA which led to Supreme Court decisions that Congress felt were too restrictive. The amendment disallows the consideration of adaptive measures such as prosthetic, medication or assistive technology in determining whether a person has a disability. It also covers those who experience discrimination based on the mere perception of impairment whether the person actually has a disability or not. It states that reasonable accommodations are required only for people who can demonstrate they have an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity or has a record of such impartment. Accommodations are not required for people who are “regarded as” having an impairment.

The amendment provides a list of “major life activities” as to not to leave it to interpretation. The list includes caring for oneself, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, performing manual tasks, seeing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, reading, concentrating, learning, thinking, communicating and working. Bodily areas listed include digestive, bowel, functions of the immune system, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory…The act provides specific detail to avoid ambiguity. This list is not complete and this information does not represent the entire Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) or the 2008 amendment.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is available at The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – eeoc.gov/ada/

The document as amended can be found at - ada.gov/pubs/ada


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