ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act
What is a disability as defined by the ADA?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines disability, with respect to an individual, as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment."
The phrase physical or mental impairment means--
Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or
anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems:
neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory
(including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive,
genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine;
Any mental or psychological disorder such as mental retardation,
organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific
Physical or mental impairment includes, but is not limited to, such contagious and non-contagious diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental retardation, emotional illness, specific learning disabilities, HIV disease (whether symptomatic or asymptomatic), tuberculosis, drug addiction, and alcoholism.Major life activities are functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. Having a record of such an impairment means a person has a history of, or has been misclassified as having, a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Being regarded as having an impairment means--
having a physical or mental impairment that does not substantially limit major life activities but being treated by a public entity as constituting such a limitation; having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities only as a result of the attitudes of others toward such impairment; or
having none of the impairments defined above but being treated by a public entity as having such an impairment.
NOTE: A "public entity" means: any state or local government; any department, agency, or other organization of such government; etc.NOTE: The term individual with a disability does not include someone who is currently using illegal drugs.
Who is a qualified person?
The next step is determining whether or not the employee meets the definition of a qualified employee with a disability. In order to meet this standard, the employee must be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without accommodation. The ADA does not require hiring, promotion or accommodation of any individual who is not qualified to perform the essential functions of the job.
Adaptive Equipment and other Accommodations
The ADA requires the removal of physical and other barriers that prevent successful employment for qualified people with disabilities. For instance, a job coach might be provided for an individual with a cognitive disability to teach the employee necessary strategies that will enable him/her to perform the essential functions of the job. Sometimes that means providing a curb cut, sometimes it means providing a computer that reads out loud and sometimes it simply means providing an additional file cabinet so that drawers can be pulled and files inserted with ease. Other accommodations include flexible work schedules, part-time positions and modifications of responsibilities.
What is a Reasonable Accommodation?
An accommodation can be considered reasonable if it does not cause an undue hardship to the employer. Additionally, an accommodation for an employee is not considered reasonable if it unduly impacts another employee. In determining what is "reasonable" we talk with the manager, direct supervisor, the employee and frequently consult with outside sources. Once the research is completed the accommodation is then either made or denied. The response is provided in writing to the employee and if the request is denied the employee can appeal the decision.
How to Request a Reasonable Accommodation
An accommodation must be requested in writing and must have supporting medical documentation. This means that the employee or client has to provide information sufficient to show that there is a disability that impairs the ability to perform major life functions. Major life functions include but are limited to: eating, working learning thinking, etc.
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Content Last Modified on 1/30/2012 2:42:25 PM