Monday, October 29, 2007

rewriting the Americans with Disabilities Act

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Some people with illnesses are seeking changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act because the circumstances of their conditions have excluded them from coverage under this law.

NPR recently featured the story of one such person. Stephen Orr, a diabetic from Nebraska, was dismissed from his job as a pharmacist when his boss refused to allow him to take a lunch break to keep his blood sugar at the right level. He sued under the ADA and lost because his diabetes was not considered a disability. The reasoning was that because his condition could be controlled with medication, it did not meet the definition of disability, which under the ADA is defined as something that limits a major life activity.

Orr wants to see the ADA rewritten to provide more expansive coverage so that it would include people like himself. Although U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and much of the rest of the House support the change, the proposal is likely to meet strong resistance in the Senate and from President George W. Bush.
Compared with when the ADA became law in 1990, there's much less interest in Washington in passing such sweeping civil rights law. There has never again been such bipartisan consensus on civil rights since Congress passed and President George H.W. Bush then signed the ADA in a joyous celebration before hundreds of activists on the White House lawn.

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