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 Newsletter: We hope you find this newsletter useful and informative, but it is not the same as legal counsel. A free newsletter is ultimately worth everything it costs you; you rely on it at your own risk. Good legal advice includes a review of all of the facts of your situation, including many that may at first blush seem to you not to matter. The plan it generates is sensitive to your goals and wishes while taking into account a whole panoply of laws, rules and practices, many not published. That is what The Special Needs Alliance is all about. Contact information for a member in your state may be obtained by calling toll-free (877) 572-8472, or by visiting www.specialneedsalliance.com