An Americans with Disabilities Act for Everyone, and for the Ages As Well
30 Pages Posted: 14 May 2019
Date Written: 2017
A perennial problem in understanding and implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is whether it is aimed at protecting only people with disabilities. Interpreting the statute in this way focuses attention on the problem of determining who is disabled. It also invites thinking that the statute conveys special benefits for disabled people, thereby suggesting that its effect is to privilege them-even if the privilege might stem from their disadvantage or need. Thus, this familiar but mistaken understanding of the ADA as conferring a right on one type of person can only be cast in a way that incites resentment.
In this Article, we take on this categorical view of the ADA. We argue that the statute from the beginning was meant to protect against an identified form of discrimination rather than to protect an identified group of people and, moreover, that in any case the concept of "disability" will not bear the weight the categorical view would ascribe to it. We contend as well that the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAA or Amendments Act) reaffirms this universal interpretation of the statute.
Keywords: ADA, Disability Law, Disability-Based Discrimination
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