About This Legislation: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990 to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the workplace. The law also aimed to make public spaces accessible. However, several Supreme Court decisions have led to a narrow interpretation of the law and excluded some individuals from being classified as disabled. The ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) is the result of a compromise between the disability and business communities over the Americans with Disabilities Act Restoration Act (ADARA). Both bills sought to address recent judicial holdings that have the effect of narrowing the definition of disabled. The ADAAA seeks to ease the process by which people qualify for protection under the ADA. It does so by establishing that the definition of disability must be interpreted broadly and stating that mitigating measures or therapies are not to be considered when determining disability. The ADAAA also includes episodic conditions in the definition of disability and extends protections to those “regarded as” disabled.
Legislative Support: The House bill was sponsored by Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD 5th) and had 230 cosponsors including 190 Democrats and 40 Republicans. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) sponsored the Senate bill which had 66 cosponsors including 39 Democrats, 2 Independents, and 25 Republicans.
Status: The ADAAA was passed by Congress and is law.