Defining disability and the ADA
Understand the language, the law, and your rights as a person with a disability.
What is a disability?
Disability is not only diverse, it is part of the human experience and it affects all individuals at some point in their lives, either directly or through a family member or close friend. If you have, or think you have, a disability, it will be important to learn more about the law and your rights.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Amendments Act (ADAAA) provide a specific legal definition of disability:
(A) a physical or mental condition that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning;
(B) a record of such an impairment, such as an illness that is in remission; or
(C) being regarded as having such an impairment, even if it is not present.
What is disability discrimination?
Disability discrimination occurs when an employer treats a qualified individual with a disability unfavorably because she or he has a disability. Not everyone with a medical condition is protected by the law. In order to be protected, a person must be qualified for the job and have a disability as defined above.
A qualified employee or applicant is an individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job.