Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended 2008 (ADAAA)


ADA extends civil rights to people with disabilities similar to those available to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, and religion through the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

What does the ADAAA do?

ADAAA is modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title V of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in private sector employment, services rendered by state and local governments, places of public accommodation, transportation, telecommunications and relay services. Our focus will be on employment which is Title I of the law.

Who is protected under the ADA Amendments Act?

Under the ADAAA a person has a disability, if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record (history) of such an impairment; or is regarded as a person with a disability (subjected to a prohibited employment action due to an actual or perceived impairment that is not both transitory and minor).

What is a physical or mental impairment? 

Physical impairments are any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfiguration, or anatomical loss affecting one or more body systems such as neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, immune, circulatory, hemic, lymphatic, skin and endocrine.

Mental impairments or psychological disorders include intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.

Not every impairment will constitute a disability.

What is a major life activity?

The ADAAA offers examples of major life activities that include seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, sitting, reaching, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, interacting with others and working. Major life activities also include major bodily functions (a body system or individual organ).

What is a reasonable accommodation?

Reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits an applicant or employee with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. UNH never has to provide an accommodation that would cause undue hardship, meaning significant difficulty or expense. The EEO/ADA Compliance Officer, HR Partner, employee and Supervisor engage in an interactive process to arrive at accommodation(s).  

Reasonable accommodations may include:

  • Modifying the application and hiring process
  • Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices 
  • Job restructuring 
  • Part time or modified work schedules 
  • Reassignment to a vacant position 
  • Adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials or policies 
  • Providing readers or interpreters 
  • Making the workplace readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.

What are the obligations of the Supervisor/Institution?

You are obligated as a Supervisor to:

  • Determine the essential job functions based on a written job description prior to advertising.
  • Provide reasonable accommodation as long as it does not result in undue hardship.
  • Adhere to nondiscriminatory hiring and employment practices as outlined in UNH policy, the ADAAA and EEOC regulations implementing the ADAAA.
  • Contact the EEO/ADA Compliance Officer in the Affirmative Action & Equity office or your HR Partner for assistance when a reasonable accommodation is requested by an employee or if you think accommodation may be warranted.

How are essential functions determined?

Supervisors use the formal job description and biomechanical job analysis to determine the essential functions, which are defined as the most important job duties or the critical elements that must be performed to achieve the objectives of the job. Marginal functions are those tasks or assignments that are tangential and not as important. Factors to consider are:

  • Removal of a function will fundamentally alter the job.
  • Whether the reason the position exists is to perform that function.
  • The number of other employees available to perform the function or among whom the performance of the function can be distributed.
  • The degree of expertise or skill required to perform the function.
  • The amount of time spent on the job performing the function.
  • The consequences of not requiring the incumbent to perform the function.
  • The work experience of incumbents in similar jobs.

Where can I get more information?