Today, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued final rules amending the regulations to the Americans with Disabilities Education Act (“ADA”).  The final rules were issued to incorporate the statutory changes to the ADA set forth in the ADA Amendment Acts of 2008, which took effect on January 1, 2009.

With the final rules, the ADA regulations will now include the expanded definition of major life activities.  In addition, the final rules add rules of construction to be applied when determining whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity.  The rules of construction state as follows:

  1. The term “substantially limits” shall be broadly construed in favor of expansive coverage, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA;

  2. An impairment is a disability if it substantially limits the ability of an individual to perform a major life activity as compared to most people in the general population;

  3. The primary issue in a case brought under the ADA should be whether the covered entity has complied with its obligations and whether discrimination has occurred and not the extent to which the individual’s impairment substantially limits a major life activity;

  4. In making the individualized assessment required by the ADA, the term “substantially limits” shall be interpreted and applied to require a degree of functional limitation that is lower than the standard for “substantially limits” applied prior to the ADA Amendment Act;

  5. Comparison of an individual’s performance of a major life activity to the performance of the same major life activity by most be in the general population usually will not require scientific, medical or statistical evidence;

  6. The ameliorative effects of mitigating measures other than ordinary glasses or contact lenses shall not be considered in assessing whether an individual has a disability;

  7. An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active;

  8. An impairment that substantially limits one major life activity need not substantially limit other major life activities in order to be considered a substantially limiting impairment;

  9. An individual meets the requirement of “being regarded as” having such an impairment if the individual establishes that he or she has been subjected to a prohibited action because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment regardless of whether the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity;

  10. Individuals eligible for protections under the ADA solely under the “regarded as” prong are not entitled to reasonable modifications. 

The final rules take effect on October 11, 2016.  A copy of the final rules can be found in the Legal References – Rules and Regulations – Federal section of this website.


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