I know, shocking, isn’t it? The Times is full of good articles today*, including one on an amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act from 1990. The way the law was originally set up placed the burden of proof of disability on the disabled person, and if that person managed her disability well–with or without the aid of medication or other services–the government could argue against the claim of disability, particularly in a case of employer dicrimination. Here’s a brief exerpt from the article:
Lawmakers said that people with epilepsy, diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis and other ailments had been improperly denied protection because their conditions could be controlled by medications or other measures. In a Texas case, for example, a federal judge said a worker with epilepsy was not disabled because he was taking medications that reduced his seizures.
In deciding whether a person is disabled, the bill says, courts should not consider the effects of “mitigating measures” like prescription drugs, hearing aids and artificial limbs. Moreover, it says, “an impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.”
Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, the chief sponsor of the bill, said: “The Supreme Court decisions have led to a supreme absurdity, a Catch-22 situation. The more successful a person is at coping with a disability, the more likely it is the court will find that they are no longer disabled and therefore no longer covered under the A.D.A.”
This is such a positive step. Much of the body of laws and agencies set up to protect and assist people who need help are skewed against those who want to help themselves, but still need a safety net. Representative Jim Langevin calls the bill “one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation of our time.”
Hooray for good news!
*I know, the financial crisis. I don’t have a damn dollar invested in these failing banks, mutual funds, etc., and like high gas prices, this development will only be good in the long run. Read Roger Cohen’s Times article today, titled “The King is Dead,” for one perspective on potential effects of the meltdown.