Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

(See the end of this page for subscribing via email, RSS, browsing articles by subject, blog archive, APH resources, writing for Fred's Head, and disclaimers.)

Search

Loading...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

ADA Changes: The New Definition of Disability

By Tim Moore

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990 and became effective on July 26, 1992 to protect those with major disabilities in the workplace. Since then, much has changed, especially the definition of the term ^D<'disability^D>'. On January 1, 2009, the definition of ^D<'disability^D>' was changed drastically.

In the initial ADA, a disability was defined as a mental or physical impairment that ^D<"substantially limits^D>" a ^D<"major life activity^D>". Major life activities were activities such as walking, hearing, seeing or breathing. Due to this strict definition, many employers used the law to prove that their employees were not truly disabled ^D<'under the law^D>', even when the employee was experiencing a disability that limited work and life activities. One case in particular was Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams. In this case, Ella Williams lost even though she had carpal tunnel syndrome because she could still perform activities such as bathing herself and brushing her teeth. In 2002 the court determined that the term disabled must be ^D<"interpreted strictly to create a demanding standard for qualifying as disabled.^D>"

In the new definition of disability, the ADA states ^D<"an impairment that substantially limits one major life activity need not limit other major life activities in order to be considered a disability.^D>" This new definition was created in hopes of providing greater protection for disabled employees.

There were other major changes as well, including an expanded list of major life activities. Now the list includes ^D<"major bodily functions^D>", including reproduction, excretion and digestion. In addition, applicants are now considered disabled even if their disability is in remission or episodic. They are considered disabled even if the use of medications, prosthetic limbs or hearing aids helps their condition. Now, applicants are considered disabled based on whether or not they need medication and other medical help. For instance, if someone has seizures but takes medication for this episodic condition that keeps it under control, they are still considered disabled because they have seizures even if they are not taking their medicines. The only amendment to this rule is a visual impairment that can be corrected with corrective lenses.

These changes will bring forth many changes in the workplace: more provisions for the disabled, more training for supervisors and managers, and more training and understanding for employees. Where once companies could question whether or not an employee was truly disabled, now they must focus solely on accommodating these disabilities. Finally, the focus is moved away from employers trying to prove that an employee is not disabled, to the employer taking care of their employees.

Reference: Tim Moore is a former Examiner for the Social Security Administration. He has a website that provides information on the SSD and SSI disability system and which also provides a Social Security Disability FAQ .

No comments:

Subscribe to receive posts via email

* indicates required

Browse Articles by Subject

Follow us on Twitter

Archives

Write for us

Your input and support in the evolution of Fred's Head are invaluable! Contact us about contributing original writing or for suggestions for updating existing articles. Email us at fredshead@aph.org.

Disclaimers

The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) makes every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the Fred's Head articles; however, APH makes no warranty, guarantee, or promise, expressed or implied, concerning the content or accuracy of the information provided in Fred's Head. APH does not endorse any technique, product, device, service, organization, or other information presented in Fred's Head, other than products and services directly offered by APH.



The products produced by the American Printing House for the Blind are instructional/teaching materials and are intended to be used by trained professionals, parents, and other adults with children who are blind and visually impaired. These materials are not intended as toys for use by children in unstructured play or in an unsupervised environment.





The information and techniques contained in Fred's Head are provided without legal consideration (free-of-charge) and are not warranted by APH to be safe or effective. All users of this service assume the risk of any injury or damage that may result from the use of the information provided.





Information in Fred's Head is not intended as a substitute for professional advice or treatment. Consult your physician before utilizing information regarding your health that may be presented on this site. Consult other professionals as appropriate for legal, financial, and related advice.





Fred's Head articles may contain links to other websites. APH is not responsible for the content of these sites.





Fred's Head articles created by APH staff are (C) copyright American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. You must request permission from APH to reprint these articles. Email fredshead@aph.org to request permission.





Any submissions to Fred's Head should be free of copyright restrictions and should be the intellectual property of the submitter. By submitting information to Fred's Head, you are granting APH permission to publish this information.





Fair Use Notice: This website may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright holder(s). This site is operated on the assumption that using this information constitutes 'fair use' of said copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law.





Opinions appearing in Fred's Head records are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Printing House for the Blind.