"We may remark in passing that to be blind and beloved may, in this world where nothing is perfect, be among the most strangely exquisite forms of happiness. The supreme happiness in life is the assurance of being loved; of being loved for oneself, even in the spite of oneself; and this assurance the blind man possesses. In his affliction, to be served is to be caressed. Does he lack anything? No. Possessing love he is not deprived of light. A love, moreover, that is wholly pure. There can be no blindness where there is this certainty." --Victor Hugo

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? The ADA is a comprehensive federal civil rights law that protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination in the areas of employment, state and local government, places of public accommodation, telecommunications and transportation.

Furthermore, the Americans with Disabilities Act enacted by Congress in July of 1990 and signed into law by President Bush shortly thereafter, has been called the most far-reaching civil rights legislation since the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

As of 2008, nearly 55 million people make up the disability community within this country, approximately 1 in 5 persons. Generally, groups under disability can be classified as the following:

  • Physical: being unable to have one's body/mind work as it once did; fatigue, muscle tremors, pain

  • Cognitive: blaming someone, hyper-vigilance, increased or decreased awareness of surroundings; loss of time, place or person orientation, nightmares

  • Emotional: anxiety, guilt, grief, denial, panic, uncertainty, fear, loss of emotional control, inappropriate emotions, apprehension, feeling overwhelmed, anger

  • Behavioral: change in activity (withdrawal), emotional outbursts, change in usual communication, inability to rest, hyper-alert to environment, startle reflex, change in sexual functioning, loss/increase in appetite, alcohol or other drug consumption.

ADA Amendment Act of 2008

According to Congress, the ADA Amendments Act was passed "to carry out the ADA's objectives of providing ‘a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination’ by reinstating a broad scope of protection to be available under the ADA." In other words, the purpose of the original ADA was to eliminate discrimination. However, if hardly anyone was covered, then hardly anyone was actually being protected from discrimination. So, in the Amendments Act Congress fixed the definition of disability to cover more people and as a result, prevent more discrimination. That means that once the Act went into effect, the question of who has a disability is no longer the main focus; instead, the focus is on whether discrimination occurred. The fundamental change is that proving a disability is much easier now. The word "broaden" appears five times in the findings and purpose sections of the Act. Here's the translation: millions of individuals who could not meet the definition of disabled under the ADA will meet the definition of disabled under the ADAAA. The effective date of this Act is: January 1, 2009.

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