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How the ADA is being handle today and problems with implementing the ADA?

How the ADA is being handle today and problems with implementing the ADA?


            The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is a comprehensive civil rights law that condemns the discrimination of people with disabilities based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal. It was signed by President George H. W. Bush on July 26, 1990. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 impose negative sanctions for acts of discrimination against people with disabilities and promote alternative practices and consciousness.

            At the time of the passage of the ADA, there are about 43 million Americans or 15 percent of the population was estimated to have a disability[1]. This legislative landmark for people with disabilities expanded the scope of the Rehabilitation Act beyond isolated pockets of federal authority to include public and private sectors fully[2]. With respect to employment, it built on the earlier statute's Section 504 by including the mandate for private-sector employers to provide "reasonable accommodations" for workers with disabilities[3].

Today, ADA greatly improved the welfare of people with severe disabilities. However, it was disapproved by some critics because of little progress in eliminating the discrimination instead it allows remedies which are complaint-driven under the law[4]. It is when individuals must make a complaint of discrimination to a person or agency charged with handling such complaints only after which the agency may take action. Furthermore, the ADA was judged as "overinclusive" in its scope[5]. There are some cases that the law is being utilized by some abusive individuals (such as malingerers and the so-called professional plaintiffs) that make it as a source of income. They sue organizations, business and companies and collect monetary damages.

The ADA also presents a ferocious media counterattack upon its implementation. There are some episodes in The Simpsons that showed Homer as grossly obsessed in order to escape the mandatory workplace fitness program as a requirement in the company. There is also an article written in The Onion - a caricature newspaper published weekly in print and on the Internet that satirized ADA as "Americans with No Abilities"[6]. But with the implementation of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines, the said argument was fixed.

There are numerous contradictions and debates with regards to the ADA. But the bottom line is the fact that the law was created for the welfare of the people with disabilities. It covers the fact that people with such disabilities are not completely and appallingly disabled. They are categorically identified with severe disabilities but they can still perform some jobs and functions necessary in practiced and performance of their duties in the workplace or environment they belong. People agree that ADA should accommodate all people with disabilities but there are still some limitations. For instance, a person with physical disability such as paraplegia (both legs paralysis) should be accommodated. But a person with mental disorder such as schizophrenia and mood disorder is a big question. Hence, there are still significant numbers of people that believed that the accommodation of this law put too many restrictions instead of offering boundless opportunity to its intended recipients[7].

Additionally, the underlying philosophy of the liberal welfare state is fundamental to the independent living movement (ILM), which calls for tax-supported services that include personal assistants, medical insurance (which now covers provision and maintenance of electric wheelchairs, respirators, and other adaptive equipment), and entitlements (income supplements) to guarantee a basic standard of living especially to the people with disabilities. The ILM tends to be allied with left-liberal politics. At the other end of the political spectrum, however, conservatives have been responsive to arguments favoring the disabled that also emphasize self-sufficiency, breaking down barriers to employment so that disabled people can earn their own living in the private sector. Such arguments were the basis for the endorsement of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 by the conservative Bush administration.[8]

 Personally, I view the ADA as a positive reinforcement to people with disabilities. It recognizes the vital contributions that they can give, in any aspect for that matter such as mental and moral, for the growth and progress of the company, field or opportunity they are affiliated and most especially to their selves. The ADA aims to bring back the feelings of self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence among them. Most importantly, the concept of equality materializes in the society in which they belong.


Why is Alcoholism being protected under the ADA, but drug user are not?


            There is much news that links to alcoholism in various media. This is not a new problem that the society faces nowadays. In fact, it has been a very common problem that up to now has not been able to resolve. Many people are undergoing treatment and counseling only to find themselves back to the habit. Currently, Alcoholism, same with transsexuality, is protected by ADA. It is considered as a disability under ADA.[9] On the contrary, drug addiction, though categorically known as impairment, is not accommodated with ADA.

            Alcoholism and drug addiction are included as impairments, and persons who are alcoholics are impaired under the ADA. The impairment is protected only as long as it does not interfere with the individual's job performance. Thus, alcoholism and drug addiction are covered impairments, but not necessarily "disabilities" under the ADA.[10] In summary, drug addiction is not covered by ADA because of some consequences and considerations. At present, the court still studies the possible solution to this exemption. The study conducted by Henderson (1991) answers the big question on the exemption of drug addiction in the application and implementation of ADA.[11] It states that there is a need to reiterate and focus the attention needed and to clear the vagueness of the two aforementioned disabilities and/or impairments.


Mental, emotional, and physical disabilities


In the society, people who experience mental, emotional or physical disability have traditionally represented a hidden minority within and outside their community. Individuals with disabilities are those individual characterized as being different from the others. Literally through institutionalization, and subtly through negative attitudes and treatment, persons with disabilities have been isolated from the social mainstream and denied the benefits and opportunities available to non-disabled persons[12].

"A "physical impairment" is a disorder, condition, disfigurement, or anatomical loss that affects at least one body system. A "mental impairment" is "any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities." The federal regulations, which interpret the ADA's provisions include the following as "physical or mental impairments": various contagious and noncontagious diseases and conditions such as orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairments; cerebral palsy; epilepsy; multiple sclerosis; cancer; heart disease; HIV disease; drug addiction; and alcoholism".[13]

            These disabilities are covered in specific provisions of the ADA. Its constant and appropriate guidelines are provided within the limits of the said law. Its implementation is also with respect to the proper execution of all the intentions herewith.

AIDS in the Workplace: are people with HIV being protected under the ADA (American with Disability Act)?


            The people with HIV/AIDS are protected under ADA. It is established that "persons with HIV disease, both symptomatic and asymptomatic, have physical impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities and are, therefore, protected by the law"[14]. The ADA also protects a qualified applicant without a disability who applies for a job and informs the employer that her spouse has AIDS. The employer cannot deny employment to the applicant simply because he/she fears the applicant may contract the disease or because he/she expects that providing health insurance benefits to the applicant will be too costly.[15]

With the support of ADA to people with HIV/AIDS, there are many state laws that do not provide the broad scope of protection offered by the ADA. For example, the Texas Human Rights Commission Act specifically excludes persons with AIDS or HIV infection from its definition of protected disabilities (Vernor's Texas Statutes). The disability laws in Alabama and Mississippi do not protect persons with mental disabilities (Code of Alabama, 21-7-1) and do not apply to private employers (Code of Alabama, 21-7-9). In each of these cases, the ADA will preempt the state law and will provide a greater level of protection for the rights of individuals with disabilities.[16]

Again, there are still issues that are not addressed properly with regards to this specific provision of ADA. There is a need to further study and focus on these aforementioned problems and the efforts of finding the ultimate congruent solution will help to make this law better and beneficial to all.

[1] LaPlante, M.P. (1991) The Demographics of Disability. In The Americans with Disabilities Act: From Policy to Practice, ed. J. West, 55–77, New York: Milbank Memorial Fund.


[2] Engel, D.M. & Munger, F.W. (1996) Rights, Remembrance, and the Reconciliation of Difference.  Law and Society Review, 30, 7–53.


[3] Ibid.


[4] Krieger, L.H. (ed.) (2003) Backlash Against the ADA: Reinterpreting Disability Rights. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.


[5] Ibid.


[6] Ibid.

[7] Switzer, J.V. (2003) Disabled Rights: American Disability Policy and the Fight for Equality. Georgetown University Press.


[8] Frank, G. (2000) Venus on Wheels: Two Decades of Dialogue on Disability, Biography, and Being Female in America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.


[9] --- (2005, April 24) Alcoholism Considered a Disability. The Register-Guard. F2.


[10] Sims, R.R. & Veres, J.G. III (eds.) (1995) Human Resource Management and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Westport, CT: Quorum Books. 10.


[11] Henderson, R.J. Jr. (1991) Addiction as Disability: The Protection of Alcoholics and Drug Addicts Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 44 Vand. L. Rev. 713. retrieved February 27, 2006 from


[12] Johnson, H.M. (2003, February 16).  Unspeakable Conversations. New York Times. Retrieved February 27, 2006 from


[13] Sims and Veres, ibid.

[14] U.S. Department of Justice. Questions and Answers: The Americans with Disabilities Act and Persons with HIV/AIDS. Retrieved February 27, 2006 from,


[15] Sims and Veres, ibid., 75.


[16]  Ibid., 17.


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