ADA Definitions

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990
    A civil rights law that expanded protections to people with disabilities in all aspects of life; which until then had been limited to The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, or State disability laws. With passage of the ADA people with disabilities are guaranteed equal opportunity in employment, services provided by state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.
  • ADA Amendments Act of 2008
    Amended the ADA by making changes as to how the definition of disability is interpreted, and was intended to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.
  • Disability
    The term “disability” means, with respect to an individual: 1) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, 2) has a record of such impairment, or 3) being regarded as having such an impairment.
  • Ergonomics
    The applied science of equipment design, as for the workplace, intended to maximize productivity by reducing fatigue and discomfort. Employers use this practice to prevent injury on the job. Ergonomic assessment adjustments may or may not be part of a reasonable accommodation. All employees (regardless of disability) are entitled to request an ergonomic assessment.
  • Essential functions
    Functions that are fundamental to accomplishing the job. The employer will determine what functions of a job are essential. An individual must be able to perform the essential functions of a job with or without reasonable accommodation.
  • Interactive process
    A flexible, interactive conversation that may be held between the employee and the employer to identify possible options for reasonable accommodation.
  • Major Life Activities
    Examples include caring for oneself, seeing, walking, speaking, hearing, breathing, learning, communicating, or working; it also includes major bodily functions. The list is non-exhaustive; these are just some examples.
  • Qualified individual with a disability
    An individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires.
  • Reasonable accommodation
    A modification or adjustment that enables a person with a disability to apply for a job, perform the essential functions of a position, or to enjoy the same benefits and privileges of employment as other employees.
  • Substantially limited
    An individual is substantially limited in a major life activity when limited in the ability to perform a major life activity in comparison to an average person in the general population.
  • Undue hardship
    An action requiring significant difficulty or expense, when considering the resources and circumstances of the employer, in relationship to the cost or difficulty of providing a specific accommodation. Undue hardship refers not only to financial difficulty, but to reasonable accommodations that are unduly extensive, substantial, or disruptive, or those that would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business. An employer must assess on a case-by-case basis whether a particular reasonable accommodation would cause undue hardship.