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Understanding Disability and Accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as Amend

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was amended in 2008 to broaden the definition of

disability and provide greater protections for individuals with disabilities in the workplace. The

ADA as amended defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as walking, seeing, hearing, or speaking. It also includes major bodily functions, such as the immune system, digestive system, and neurological system.


The ADA as amended makes it easier for individuals with disabilities to establish that they have a disability and are entitled to protection under the law. For example, the amendments clarified that an impairment need not be permanent or severe to be considered a disability and that episodic impairments, such as migraines or epilepsy, can also be considered disabilities.


Importantly, the ADA as amended also broadened the range of activities that are considered

major life activities. This includes activities such as reading, concentrating, and communicating. It also includes major bodily functions, such as the immune system, digestive system, and

neurological system.


In addition to broadening the definition of disability, the ADA as amended also provides greater protections for individuals with disabilities in the workplace by expanding the types of

reasonable accommodations that employers may be required to provide. The ADA as amended provides a non-exhaustive list of examples of reasonable accommodations, which include:


1. Modifying equipment or devices: This could include modifying or acquiring specialized

equipment, such as a wheelchair, hearing aids, or a computer screen reader.


2. Modifying policies or procedures: This could include modifying attendance policies, providing additional breaks, or allowing an employee to work from home.


3. Providing qualified readers or interpreters: This could include providing sign language

interpreters or qualified readers for individuals with visual impairments.


4. Restructuring jobs: This could include modifying job duties, reassigning non-essential tasks, or adjusting the work schedule.


5. Making physical modifications to the workplace: This could include installing ramps,

modifying restrooms, or providing accessible parking.


The ADA as amended also imposes a higher burden on employers to prove that a requested

accommodation would cause an undue hardship. An undue hardship is defined as a significant difficulty or expense, but the employer must show that the accommodation would be excessively costly, extensive, or disruptive to the operation of the business.


An employer must engage in an interactive process with employees with disabilities to discuss potential accommodations. The interactive process should be a conversation between the employee and employer to determine what accommodations are reasonable and effective. Employers should also ensure that their policies and procedures do not discriminate against employees with disabilities and provide equal employment opportunities to all employees.


In conclusion, the ADA as amended provides important protections for individuals with

disabilities in the workplace by broadening the definition of disability and expanding the types

of reasonable accommodations that employers may be required to provide.


If you believe your employer has not provided an accommodation, failed to engage in the

interactive process, or treat you differently because you are disabled, contact Robinson Law Offices to speak with an attorney.

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