The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), was amended in September 2008 by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), which took effect on January 1, 2009. The ADAAA emphasizes that the definition of disability should be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA and generally shall not require extensive analysis. In other words, the Amendments Act expanded who qualifies as “disabled” for the purposes of the ADA’s protections. The new law makes it easier for an individual to establish that he or she has a disability within the meaning of the ADA.
The ADA’s basic definition of “disability”-an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment-remains the same under the new law. But those definitional terms are now subject to revised interpretations. A summary of the key revisions are set forth in the document linked below.
EEOC must revise its ADA regulations to comply with the new law. To accomplish these revisions, EEOC approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), containing a detailed analysis of the proposed changes, in September. There is a 60-day period following the publication of the NPRM when the Commission receives public comments on the proposed changes. Those comments are considers when drafting the final regulations.
As part of this public-comment period, EEOC will host four full-day “Town Hall Listening Sessions” across the county in October and November. Those in the Philadelphia area will have the opportunity to participate in one such session on Friday, October 30, 2009. Attendees will have the chance to provide their direct input on the proposed regulations.
The Listening Session will be held at the Liberty Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Throughout the day, individuals will be able to comment on the proposed regulations in five-minute increments. Some of the time slots will be pre-assigned and others will be available on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the event. Details, including the event address and registration details,are provided in the document below.
Those who take advantage of this opportunity will have the attention of a panel of key players. The panel will be presided over by EEOC’s Acting Chair and Vice Chair, Stuart J. Ishimaru and Christine Griffin, and Commissioner Constance S. Barker, as well as DOJ’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Samuel Bagenstos, Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Mazen Baswari, and Chief of the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division, John Wodatch.