First Things First …
Disability Is … Complicated
The ADA defines a physical impairment as a physiological disorder or condition, anatomical loss, or cosmetic disfigurement that impacts one or more of these body systems:
- Special-sense organs
- Hemic and lymphatic
The ADA defines a mental impairment as any psychological or mental disorder, such as emotional or mental illness, mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, and learning disabilities.
Although there is no definitive list for these disabilities due to the extreme difficulty in including every current and possible future mental disorder, there are a few examples listed. These are the examples given, inclusive of both physical and mental impairments:
- Muscular dystrophy
- Orthopedic, speech, and hearing impairments
- Visual impairments
- Heart disease
- Epilepsy (added in the 2008 Amendments)
- Cerebral palsy
- Mental retardation
- Drug addiction
- Specific learning disabilities
- Diabetes (added in the 2008 Amendments)
- Cancer (added in the 2008 Amendments)
Furthermore, the ADA states that the impairment must be either a physiological or a mental disorder. Depression, stress/anxiety disorders, and similar conditions are only sometimes considered impairments, under the ADA guidelines. Whether depression and stress are considered impairments depends solely upon whether or not they result from a documented mental or physiological disorder, or they result from either personal life or job pressures. In addition, the impairment must substantially limit at least one major life activity. Although an employer is restricted from asking you about your disability, aside from asking about your ability to perform the necessary job duties, and technically cannot ask you to take a medical examination (unless it is required of every other employee in that position, once hired), be prepared to be able to show proof of disabilities not visibly apparent. But if necessary, remember there are plenty of disability advocates out there, so don't hesitate to get some assistance.
Definitively Speaking …
- caring for oneself
- performing manual tasks
So that's pretty much every major life activity/function I can think of, anyway! Next, let's look at what "substantially limits" actually means. "Substantially limits" is legally defined in the ADA as: the extent to which the impairment limits an individual’s ability to perform a major life activity, as compared to most people in the general population, whether or not an individual chooses to forgo mitigating measures. Mitigating measures are considered things like medications and assistive devices, which a disabled person may use to reduce the effects of his or her disability.
Land Of Confusion