The ADA Amendments Act

Updated Law Goes into Effect 1.1.09
Originally published in December, 2008

The Supreme Court’s decisions on the Americans with Disabilities Act have been widely believed to have diluted its original intent.

The biggest impact: a drastic narrowing of who falls under the definition of disability. If you’re missing a limb or paralyzed or blind or deaf, no question. If your impairments can be mitigated in some way, then too bad.

In other words, someone who falls outside of the definition who believes they were discriminated against based on the presence of their disability, lost protection under the ADA.

The original framers of the law, Democrats and Republicans alike, were upset that the spirit of their intent had been violated. In partnership with the disability advocacy community, The ADA Restoration Act of 2008 was introduced in Congress.

Bush signing the ADA with Evan Kemp and Justin Dart.

President George H.W. Bush signs the original Americans with Disabilities Act in June, 1990.

The business community was concerned that changes to the ADA would limit their options, involve more administration, and add to their costs.

So here’s the wonderfully good news.

The disability and business communities worked together on what became the renamed “ADA Amendments Act.” Thanks to this successful collaboration*, the act passed.

On September 25, 2008, George W. Bush signed into law this amendment to the law originally signed by his father, George H.W. Bush, in 1990.

Two key examples from the ADA Amendments Act:

· Mitigating measures other than “ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses”shall not be considered in assessing whether an individual has a disability (for the disability community)

· Provides that individuals covered only under the “regarded as” prong are not entitled to reasonable accommodation (for the business community)

Read “The ADA Amendments Act of 2008, S.3406“.

* This collaboration, I believe, is evidence of two key facts: the business community is recognizing the emerging value of people with disabilities as employees and consumers; disability advocates have achieved a level of political and negotiating sophistication that is producing more win-wins like this one.