ASID Icon - January/February 2009 - (Page 36)
DESIGN FOR LIFE/ Rights Restored ADA AMENDMENTS ACT BROADENS SCOPE OF LANDMARK LEGISLATION/ THE ADA AMENDMENTS ACT, signed into law on September 25, 2008, by President George W. Bush, restores the intent and protections of certain aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which had been limited by subsequent Supreme Court rulings. The ADAAA, as the new Act is known, took effect on January 1, 2009. Although the ADAAA does not contain any provisions that directly address the built environment, designers need to be aware of the purposes and intent of the revisions, as they have implications for accommodations that must be made for individuals regarded as disabled under the law. In the ADA, the term “disability” is deﬁned as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities” or “being regarded as having such an impairment.” In order to more clearly state Congress’ intent, the ADAAA adds a deﬁnition of “major life activities”: Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating and working. The scope of the deﬁnition is very wide; however, the Act puts some limitations on the scope of the term “regarded as,” stating that it does not apply to impairments that are transitory (of expected or actual duration of six months or less) and minor. Another signiﬁcant change in the ADAAA concerns the term “substantially limits.” Rejecting case law that found that a disability does not “substantially” limit an individual if medication or an assistive device corrected or compensated for the condition, the Act states that determination of whether an individual has a “disability” under the law must be made without regard to any corrective or compensating measures that may or could be used. This provision, too, potentially broadens the scope of the law considerably. In short, with the enactment of the ADAAA, many more individuals may and can request accommodation for their disability, including the ever-increasing number of elderly Americans, many of whom have impairments in one or more major life activities. Indeed, that was Congress’ intent in passing the Act, to provide more protection and opportunity to individuals who were being excluded unintentionally. What this means for interior designers is that the environments they create will need to accommodate and support a broader range of needs. The workplace, hospitality, health care, government and institutional spaces all are likely to be affected by the need to provide “reasonable accommodation” for these individuals, although it is uncertain as yet what the effects of the law will be in practice. For more information about the ADA, its history and its implications for designers, see the ASID publication, Designing for the Elderly Population: The Americans with Disabilities Act and Its Implications for an Aging America, available through the Book Center on the ASID Web site at www.asid.org. i 36 icon january/february/09 the magazine of the american society of interior designers
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ASID Icon - January/February 2009
ASID Icon - January/February 2009
Getting it Right
Design for Life
ASID Icon - January/February 2009
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