Here’s something to be watching:  a bill currently winding its way through Congress is likely to bring significant changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The bill, knows as the ADA Amendments Act ("ADAAA"), will greatly broaden the scope of the ADA. 

Some highlights of the ADAAA:

  • Reverses several Supreme Court decisions that have seemingly narrowed the coverage of the ADA, restoring what the drafters perceive to be the original Congressional intent
  • Broadens the definition of disability, including what it means to be “substantially limited in a major life activity
  • Creates a list of per se "major life activities"
  • Clarifies that accommodations are not be required if an individual is merely "regarded as” having a disability
  • Prohibits the consideration of mitigating measures such as medication, prosthetics, and assistive technology, in determining whether an individual has a disability
  • Provides coverage to people who experience discrimination based on a perception of impairment regardless of whether the individual experiences disability

The ADAAA passed the House of Representatives on June 25, 2008 by a vote of 402-17.  The bill was introduced to the Senate on August 1, and reports are that at least 70 Senators have vowed to support the bill.  A vote is expected when the Senate reconvenes in September.  No word yet from the White House on whether President Bush will sign the bill into law, but it seems to have a veto-proof majority. 

To read an official summary of the ADAAA, click here.  To read the full text of the current bill, click here.  Stay tuned to the Stoel Rives World of Employment for updates on this landmark legislation.