One of the main things you need to know about the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act is that it broadens the definition of disability. Many more people will be considered disabled now than in the past. One of the stated purposes of the legislation is to overturn recent court cases that have narrowed the definition of who is considered disabled for purposes of ADA protections.
The ADAAA defines a disability as:
- a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
- a record of such an impairment
- being regarded as having such an impairment.
Until the ADAAA, "major life activities" were not defined. The ADAAA defines major life activities by providing something akin to a laundry list. Specifically, the new law says 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. These should sound pretty familiar to you; however, the law goes on to say that 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.
The ADA requires an interactive process, and the people who need to implement that process must understand who is covered by this. Highly recommended training on the ADAAA will be offered to all federal employees, so please refer to the training schedule and/or weeklies for dates, times, and locations.