Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA): Legal Definition

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law established to protect people with disabilities from discrimination. Former President George H.W. Bush signed it into law in 1990. Following the passage of the law, Americans with disabilities enjoyed the same protections granted to other protected classes — e.g., race, gender, religion, national origin — in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Who the ADA Protects

The ADA protects all Americans with disabilities. It casts a wide net when defining disabilities. Under the ADA’s language, a disability can be physical, mental, or psychological. The litmus test for whether something is or is not a disability is whether it impacts one’s ability to carry out “major life activities.” These activities include:

  • Working;
  • Eating;
  • Bathing;
  • Dressing;
  • Transportation;
  • And more.

The disabilities covered by the ADA are diverse — way too many for the Act to list one by one. It does, however, provide categories of protected disabilities, and under each category lists at least one specific condition.

Some conditions the ADA covers include:

The ADA protects not only those who currently have disabilities but also those with previous disabilities who are still vulnerable in some way — for instance, drug addicts or alcoholics in recovery. It also extends to people in relationships with others who have disabilities, such as the husband or wife of a person with blindness.

Who the ADA Does Not Protect

To prevent abuse of the law, the ADA specifically excludes certain categories of people. Here are some examples of conditions the ADA does not protect as a disability:

  • Pedophilia
  • Kleptomania
  • Voyeurism/exhibitionism
  • Compulsive gambling
  • Pyromania

What Protections the ADA Provides

The ADA offers protections in five categories. They are as follows:

  • Employment: The ADA forbids employers from discriminating against workers or applicants on the basis of any covered disability. Moreover, the ADA states that employers must make reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities.
  • Government activities: The ADA mandates that those with disabilities be allowed equal access to government programs and services.
  • Public accommodations: Businesses open to the public must make a reasonable effort to accommodate guests and patrons with disabilities.
  • Housing: Property owners must have “covered multifamily dwellings with certain features of accessible design.”
  • Telecommunications: The ADA requires telecommunications companies to make their products as accessible to those with disabilities as they are to those without disabilities.
  • Miscellaneous: This section features assorted rules not explicitly covered by the other four categories.

Call 865-566-0800 Today for a Free Case Evaluation with a Social Security Disability Lawyer

The Social Security disability attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group want to help you obtain Social Security disability benefits. We offer a free initial case evaluation. To schedule an appointment today, call us at 865-566-0800.