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ADA Amendments Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act was approved by Congress on September 17, 2008, and signed into law by President Bush September 25. The passage of the legislation solidifies Congress’s intention for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to be a broad measure of protection and will mark a return to the original spirit of the law.

When Congress passed the ADA in 1990, its intention was to provide protection for all people with disabilities. After its initial passage, the courts have interpreted the measures put forth in the ADA in the strictest way possible, thereby denying protection to individuals who were meant to be included under this law. The ADA Amendments Act rectifies this discrepancy by clarifying Congress’ original intent.

Along with an in-depth explanation of the intent of the ADA, the ADA Amendments Act specifically clarifies that cases related to discrimination should not be focused on the degree to which a person is disabled. Instead, cases should focus on the discrimination that has occurred. In addition, it clarifies that measures and services that improve a person’s access or ability should not be taken into account when determining whether a person qualifies for ADA protection. These individuals should not have to choose between improving a condition and qualifying for protection.

With regard to this important legislation, NCRA President Karen Yates, CRR, CBC, CCP states, “NCRA has been an ardent supporter of the Americans with Disabilities Act and is proud to continue that support through the ADA Amendments Act. The ADA Amendments Act extends the protections of the ADA to those who have been previously and unnecessarily excluded. With the extension of these protections, NCRA and its members are committed to fulfilling the required captioning hours mandated by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The ADA was a tremendous benchmark for individuals with disabilities, and we are proud to stand, once again, with our friend Sen. Tom Harkin in making sure that all Americans who are deaf or hard-of-hearing have the captioning services they need.”