Comparison of the ADA (as construed by courts) and the ADA, As Amended, Kevin Barry, Emily Benfer and Chai Feldblum, Georgetown Federal Legislation & Administrative Clinic (2009)

Guides (Legal or Medical)

This chart provides a quick guide to the most essential changes made to the Americans With Disabilities Act, originally enacted in 1990, through adoption of the ADA Amendments Act, which became effective as of January 1, 2009. The ADAAA was necessary to undo the increasingly limited interpretation of the term "disability" that the U.S. Supreme Court had applied in a series of critical cases, and the consequently extreme narrowing of the class of individuals covered by the ADA's antidiscrimination protections, contrary to what Congress had in mind when it passed the original ADA in 1990.

The chart compares the ADA as it has been construed by federal courts with the changes to these constructions made by the ADAAA. The chart summarizes the essential "before and after amendment" take on the general scope of the definition of disability; the effect of mitigating measures (steps a person with a disability takes to limit the impact of that disability, such as taking medications or using a prothesis) on whether a person is still considered "disabled" under the law; the meaning of the terms "substantially limits" and "major life activity;" the relevance of whether a person's impairments are intermittent rather than chronic (such as epilepsy); and the broadening of what it means to be "regarded as" having a disability for purposes of coverage under the law.