The Catholic University of America

ADA Guidelines

Qualified Individual with a Disability

Discrimination is prohibited against qualified persons with physical or mental impairments that substantially affect major life activities, those with records of such impairments, and those who are regarded as so impaired.*

Physical or mental impairment is (a) a physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss such as epilepsy, paralysis, HIV infection, AIDS, or substantial hearing or vision impairment or (b) a mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness and specific learning disabilities. Examples of conditions that would not be disabilities are short-term, non-chronic conditions such as a broken leg, a sprain or the flu. An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.

Major life activities: This includes, but is not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating and working. A major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

Substantially limits means a material restriction of the duration, manner or condition under which an individual can perform a major life activity when compared to the average person's ability to perform that same major life activity. Temporary impairments that take significantly longer than normal to heal, long-term impairments, or potentially long-term impairments of indefinite duration may be disabilities if they are severe. Evaluate whether the impairment substantially limits any of the major life activities of the person in question, not whether the impairment is substantially limiting in general. . The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to effects of mitigating measures such as medication, medical supplies, hearing aids, etc. For example a person with diabetes will still qualify as an individual with a disability, even though the individual may have minimal impairment while on insulin. The one exception is eyeglasses or contact lenses. The effects of corrective lenses on one's vision shall be considered in determining substantially limits. Thus, a person with good vision with corrective lens will not be considered disabled.

Record of such an impairment means has a history of, or has been classified as having, a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Individuals who have been misclassified by a school or hospital as having mental retardation or a substantially limiting learning disability would be covered by this part of the definition of disability.

Is regarded as having an impairment means (a) has a physical or mental impairment that does not substantially limit major life activities but that is treated by the university as constituting such a limitation; (b) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities only as a result of the attitudes of others toward such impairment; or (c) has none of the impairments defined above but is treated by the university as having such an impairment. For example, an applicant rejected for a job on the basis of a back x-ray that reveals some anomaly, even though that person has no back impairment, would fall under this category.

Qualified student with a disability means an individual who, with reasonable modifications (if necessary) to rules, policies or practices, the removal of barriers, or the provision of auxiliary aids and services, meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of the services or the participation in programs or activities provided by a school.

Qualified employee with a disability means an individual who, with reasonable accommodation if necessary, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires.

Alcohol and substance abuse are not protected by the ADA. A drug user who is in a supervised rehabilitation program, or has completed such a program successfully is protected by the law against discrimination. Addiction to alcohol is considered a disability. Current alcoholics (even if they are still drinking), recovering alcoholics, relapsed alcoholics, individuals with a history of alcoholism, and individuals wrongly regarded as alcoholic are protected by the ADA if they are qualified to perform the essential functions of the job. An alcoholic whose use of alcohol impairs performance on the job is not protected, although reasonable accommodations such as a leave of absence to seek treatment may be required. The university has the right to require adherence to its substance abuse policies. The CUA Drug and Alcohol Abuse Policy applies to all employees regardless of the presence or absence of a disability. The Student Alcohol and Drug Abuse Policy applies to all students regardless of the presence or absence of a disability.

* Employers are not required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who are solely regarded as disabled and are not actually disabled.

Updated 2/19/09 to reflect changes in the ADA