ADA Restration Act FAQ Part #1 of 9: What is the problem with the coverage of people with disabilities under the current ADA that needs to be fixed?

Posted on 29 February 2008. Filed under: ADA Restoration Act of 2007, Advocacy |

Some fans are aware by now that I have been doing a lot of blogging about the ADA Restoration Act in the past few months, including how it affects Deaf people (but also people with disabilities generally).

But judging by comments left by some readers, some people aren’t clear on why we need the ADA Restoration Act in the first place, or exactly what the ADA Restoration Act is and isn’t meant to do. It’s important and it will help–some. But no, it isn’t meant to fix every loophole or flaw in the original Americans with Disabilities Act. It has a very narrow and specific purpose. It can be worthwhile to familiarize yourself with it so you can have realistic expectations for what it can–and cannot–accomplish for Deaf Americans or other people with disabilities.

In the next few weeks, I will be posting 9 separate items from a set of FAQs on the ADA Restoration Act developed by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Rights Task Force. Here is the first:


1. What is the problem with the coverage of people with disabilities under the current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that needs to be fixed?

The Supreme Court and the lower courts have dramatically changed the meaning of “disability” under the ADA over the past eight years – since the Sutton v. United Airlines decision – so as to make it almost unrecognizable.

Courts have ruled that people with epilepsy, diabetes, intellectual and developmental disabilities, muscular dystrophy, and cancer (among many others) are not “disabled” for purposes of the ADA. This is not what Congress intended when it passed the ADA in 1990.

► Studies show that plaintiffs lose 97% of ADA employment discrimination claims,∗ mostly on the grounds that they do not meet the definition of “disability.” These individuals are not even given the opportunity to show they can do the job and were treated unfairly because of their medical condition.

∗ See Amy L. Allbright, 2006 Employment Decisions Under the ADA Title I – Survey Update, 31 Mental & Physical Disability L. Rep. 328, 328 (July/August 2007) (stating that in 2006, “[o]f the 218 [employment discrimination] decisions that resolved the claim (and have not yet changed on appeal), 97.2 percent resulted in employer wins and 2.8 percent in employee wins”).

To read the full 6-page, 9 item FAQ, you can download the Word file (60.5 Kb) at

Or you can download it in PDF format (102 Kb) at:

PLEASE make an ASL vlog (or a written blog, if you like) on the ADA Restoration Act! If you do, I’d be delighted to link to you!

CCD has compiled an excellent collection of materials on the ADA and on the ADA Restoration Act of 2007, so it’s well worth following their link to If you’re still new to the subject, this can help you understand why the ADA Restoration Act is critical to pass and why we should all be involved.

See my continually-updated list of blog entries from all over the web about the ADA Restoration Act of 2007, always available from the top navigation bar at “On the ADA Restoration Act.”

See eight examples of specific court cases that have served to undermine the spirit and intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act: click on “ADA Court Cases” under “categories” in the right-hand navigation bar.

Also, don’t miss these links: One group of activists has posted a short list of simple ideas of things you can do to help get the Restoration Act passed. And do check out the ADA Restoration Blog for updates. Or browse through background information on the ADA Restoration Act. Or contact your legislators. It is particularly important to write letters to your senators.


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