The U.S. Department of Justice is issuing new regulations significantly expanding who’s covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In a final rule published this month in the Federal Register, the agency is clarifying that those with everything from cancer to diabetes, epilepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities and other conditions should be protected under the ADA.
The regulations cement changes that Congress made when it passed the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, the Justice Department said.
“In response to earlier Supreme Court decisions that significantly narrowed the application of the definition of ‘disability’ under the ADA, Congress enacted the ADA Amendments Act to restore the understanding that the definition of ‘disability’ shall be broadly construed and applied without extensive analysis,” the rule states.
Technically, the ADA Amendments Act is already in effect, but publishing the updated regulations will eliminate confusion about what the law calls for and how it should be applied, the Justice Department said.
“This final rule clarifies Congress’ original mandate that eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities requires an expansive definition of what disability means and who the law covers,” said Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department’s regulation sets forth clear new rules, new examples and detailed guidance to ensure that courts, covered entities and people with disabilities better understand the ADAAA.”
The new regulations will officially take effect Oct. 11.