U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights
The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (Amendments Act), effective January 1, 2009, amends the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and includes a conforming amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act) that affects the meaning of the term disability in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504). The Amendments Act retains the definition of disability under Section 504 and the ADA but emphasizes that the definition should be interpreted broadly.
Among other things, the Amendments Act directs that the ameliorating effects of mitigating measures (other than ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses) not be considered in determining whether an individual has a disability; expands the scope of "major life activities" by providing a non-exhaustive list of general activities and a non-exhaustive list of major bodily functions; clarifies that an impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active; and clarifies the meaning of "regarded as" having a disability, including that individuals "regarded as" having a disability are not entitled to reasonable accommodations or reasonable modifications.
OCR is evaluating the impact of the Amendments Act on OCR's enforcement responsibilities under Section 504 and under Title II of the ADA, including whether any changes in regulations, guidance, or other publications are appropriate.