Dear ABILITY Readers,
Recently, the ADA Amendments Act was signed into law, and I was proud to be its chief sponsor. When it is enacted in early 2009, the legislation will allow us to fulfill the original promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
As you may know, the ADA was one of the landmark civil rights laws of the 20th century, and helped us make enormous progress in advancing the four goals of the ADA: equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency.
Despite these strides, we have left some people with disabilities behind. The problem is a series of Supreme Court decisions, which have greatly narrowed the scope of who is protected by the ADA. First of all, these cases held that mitigating measures, such as medication, prosthetics, or other assistive devices, must be considered in determining whether a person has a disability under the ADA. Secondly, they asserted that there must be a demanding standard in assessing whether an individual has a “disability.”
As a result, people with conditions that common sense tells us are disabilities, are being told by courts that they are not disabled, and thus not eligible for protections under the law...