Congress remanded the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), effective January 1st, 2009 in ways that largely favor consumers, workers and the disabled, explicitly rejecting Supreme Court holdings in Sutton v. United Air Lines, Inc., 527 U.S. 471 (1999). In essence, the new ADA allows for broader coverage of individuals by providing and expanding out a clear yet non exhaustive list of what constitutes a “major life activity”. Walking, breathing, lifting, eating are included, but so are cognitive activities like concentrating, thinking, caring for oneself, sleeping, socializing, etc. Secondly, under the old ADA, if a person could ameliorate their disability with a use of a corrective measure (prescription glasses, a walker, sleeping medication), it was person’s condition after the use of corrective measures that was used to determine if person was disabled. Under the new ADA it is the condition of a person before any corrective measures are used that is used to determine if they are in fact disabled within the meaning under ADA. For example the person could be hard of hearing but hear well with the use of a hearing device. Under the new ADA that person would likely meet the criteria.
If a person is found to be disabled under the meaning of the ADA, then generally employers, landlords, public institutions are required to make reasonable accommodations to help those individuals.