Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Definition of a Disability

Definition of Disability according to ADA –AA:

  • An impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
  • Have a record of such impairment
  • Being regarded as having such an impairment, but states that the definition should be interpreted broadly

Disability Interpretation

  • With the new ADA amendments it is the interpretation of disability that has changed. Interpretation is more expansive, affording protection to a wider spectrum of individuals with disabilities. Accordingly, in determining whether an individual is disabled, three stipulations are now evident.
  • The effects of ameliorating agents cannot be considered. For example, a person with epilepsy whose seizures are controlled by medications or one who uses an assistive device such as a hearing aid to correct hearing loss or one who uses learned behavioral adaptations to create the appearance of normalcy is still considered to have a qualifying condition if one or more life activities are affected.
  • Impairments that are in remission or episodic are also covered if when active these conditions have a similar effect on one or more life activities (Washington Labor, Employment & Employee Benefits Law Blog. January 13, 2009).
  • The term — life activities is now more broadly defined to include seeing, hearing, eating, smelling, sleeping, breathing, walking, speaking, bowel and bladder control, learning, reading, writing, spelling, concentrating, thinking, communicating, perceiving and other neurologic functions, working, performing self-care and other manual tasks. (Washington Labor, Employment & Employee Benefits Law Blog. January 13, 2009)

Disability Laws

  •      Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Learn More>>
  •      ADA Amendments Act of 2008
    • An Act to restore the intent and protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Learn more>>

Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Quinn Administration, 03, 025
Phone: 617.287.4818
Fax: 617.287.4833
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