32 years ago in the United States, then-President George W. Bush signed into law the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) to protect those with disabilities from discrimination. While many think being disabled has to be visible to the naked eye, it most certainly does not and while it can be easy to pass judgment when not being able to easily see the disability, it proves that we don’t have to know the specific disability but must honor the request that is being made.
According to the ADA Website, A person with a disability is someone who:
- has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,
- has a history or record of such an impairment (such as cancer that is in remission), or
- is perceived by others as having such an impairment (such as a person who has scars from a severe burn).
The term “substantially limits” is interpreted broadly and is not meant to be a demanding standard. But not every condition will meet this standard. An example of a condition that is not substantially limiting is a mild allergy to pollen.
Major life activities are the kind of activities that you do every day, including your body’s own internal processes. There are many major life activities in addition to the examples listed here. Some examples include:
- Actions like eating, sleeping, speaking, and breathing
- Movements like walking, standing, lifting, and bending
- Cognitive functions like thinking and concentrating
- Sensory functions like seeing and hearing
- Tasks like working, reading, learning, and communicating
- The operation of major bodily functions like circulation, reproduction, and individual organs
Also on the website, autism is outlined as an example of a disability along with a host of others. The ADA is broken up into five different sections, which are called titles. Different titles set out the requirements for different kinds of organizations. These are those in regards to employment, state and local government services, public transit, businesses that are open to the public and telecommunications .
Being disabled according to the ADA does not simply mean being entitled to getting what you want, it simply means that you get what you need to participate equally in an activity or environment without an undue burden and is a reasonable modification It does mean that you get any special treatment to things, like special transportation for example, as this is outlined greatly in legal notices in newspapers in the area which I reside.
There should be no shame in asking for accommodations when necessarily. The worst thing is that you can be denied your request or a reasonable accommodation can be made for you to do what needs to be done equally as others.
Others do not have to know should you choose not to share. You as an individual have rights, including the right to keep your personal affairs just that. Doing what is necessary in order to have a reasonable life in your standards is simply your business and you have to look out for yourself. Others will pass judgment, but you must be stronger and know that they oftentimes do not know the whole situation that it involves.
In reality, there are many advantages to being disabled that the Americans With Disabilities Act provides those in need of accommodations, however you must understand that it is solely used to provide you an reasonable accommodation in order to access things the same as everyone and have the same opportunity as others, it is not a path for acting better than others or more entitled than the non-disabled. In reality is about equality, not about getting what you want, rather getting what you need.