Wheelchair and arrow symbols on sign On September 11, 2008, the U.S. Congress passed the ADA Amendments Act and sent it to President Bush for his signature. The Act boldly reaffirms the U.S. commitment to ending discrimination against individuals with disabilities. President George W. Bush is expected to sign the Amendments to the Americans With Disabilities Act, which was originally signed into law by his father, President George H.W. Bush, in 1990.

The 2008 Amendments were introduced in response to a trend over the years by courts limiting the original protections of the ADA. Narrow interpretations had resulted in widespread exclusion of individuals with disabilities despite Congress’ intent that they should be covered under the 1990 law.

The Special Needs Alliance strongly supports the legislation. We congratulate Congress and the many disability organizations across the country that worked tirelessly with policy makers to protect the civil rights of those with special needs.

The bill generally broadens the definition of disability in the ADA. It clarifies that the standard used by courts to determine who has a disability must be made less restrictive, and it overturns various court decisions that have excluded many individuals with disabilities from protection. According to the sponsors of the legislation, it “fulfills our promise to tear down the barriers of ignorance and misinterpretation that make up an unpardonable wall of exclusion against people with disabilities.”

As President of the SNA, I see this as a victory for the countless people with disabilities who have innocently watched their protections under federal law erode. The SNA is in the business of protecting the benefits of those with disabilities, and the development in Congress earlier this week conceptually underscores the critical importance of that work.

Andrew H. Hook, CELA
Special Needs Alliance

About this Article: We hope you find this article informative, but it is not legal advice. You should consult your own attorney, who can review your specific situation and account for variations in state law and local practices. Laws and regulations are constantly changing, so the longer it has been since an article was written, the greater the likelihood that the article might be out of date. SNA members focus on this complex, evolving area of law. To locate a member in your state, visit Find an Attorney.

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