What Impairments are Likely to Constitute Disabilities under the ADA?

The EEOC’s regulations implementing the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 stress that an individual assessment is necessary in all cases to determine whether an individual is disabled within the meaning of the ADA.  The EEOC does, however, take the position that the individualized assessment of some types of impairments will, in “virtually all cases,” result in a finding that the impairment substantially limits a major life activity.  29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(j)(3).  The EEOC provided the following list of such impairments:

  • Deafness substantially limits hearing.
  • Blindness substantially limits seeing.
  • An intellectual disability (formerly termed mental retardation) substantially limits brain function.
  • Partially or completely missing limbs or mobility impairments requiring the use of a wheelchair substantially limit musculoskeletal function.
  • Autism substantially limits brain function.
  • Cancer substantially limits normal cell growth.
  • Cerebral palsy substantially limits brain function.
  • Diabetes substantially limits endocrine function.
  • Epilepsy substantially limits neurological function.
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection substantially limits immune function.
  • Multiple sclerosis substantially limits neurological function.
  • Muscular dystrophy substantially limits neurological function.
  • Major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia substantially limit brain function.

It is important to note that the EEOC does not assert that the foregoing impairments are per se disabilities.  Rather the EEOC requires an individualized assessment in all cases, even those cases involving one of the above-listed impairments.

About Danielle Fitzsimmons

Danielle Fitzsimmons is an attorney in the Employment, Benefits, and Labor section of Briggs and Morgan, P.A. Danielle focuses her practice on employment litigation and counseling. For Danielle's full bio, click here.

Posted on October 5, 2011, in Accommodations and Accessibility. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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