If you have recently become disabled due to an injury or illness, or have experienced discrimination due to a disability, you might feel powerless and distraught. However, there are laws in place to protect you. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) “prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public accommodations and requires places of public accommodation and commercial facilities to be designed, constructed, and altered in compliance with the accessibility standards established by [the ADA].” This means that employers, businesses, and government services must be accessible to people with both physical and mental disabilities. Furthermore, the ADA prohibits employers from harassing and discriminating against disabled individuals who can perform the responsibilities of their job descriptions.
What qualifies as a disability?
The ADA defines a disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual.” A physical impairment is any medical disorder, condition or disfigurement affecting one of the body’s systems. A mental impairment, on the other hand, can be anything from an intellectual disability to organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, or specific learning disabilities.
Examples of conditions that are impairments:
- Blindness and visual impairments
- Hearing or speech impairments
- Heart disease
- Migraine headaches
- Orthopedic impairments
- Complications from pregnancy
- Thyroid gland disorders
Examples of conditions not considered to be impairments:
- The flu
- Minor and non-chronic gastrointestinal disorders
- A broken bone that is expected to heal completely
- Compulsive gambling
- Old age
- Lack of education
- Sexual orientation