The EEOC published its final regulations interpreting the ADA Amendments Act on March 25, 2011.  Consequently, those regulations become effective on March 24, 2011.  The effect of the Act and these regulations is that large numbers of employees will qualify as disabled under the law thereby triggering an increased number of applicants and employees who may be eligible for reasonable accommodations.  Here are a summary of the regulations:

  1. Defines "major life activities" broadly to include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, sitting, reaching, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, interacting with others, working and the operation of a major bodily functions such as the immune system, special sense organs and skin, normal cell growth and digestive, genitourinary, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, cardiovascular, endocrine, hemic, lymphatic, musculoskeletal and reproductive systems.
  2. Clarifies that the term "substantially limits" is not to be a demanding standard; should be construed expansively; the impairment’s limitations should be viewed in their active, rather than remissive, state; mitigating measures should not be considered; and the examination should not usually require scientific, medical or statistical analysis.
  3. Identifies impairments that will almost always substantially limit a major life activity such as:  deafness, blindness, intellectual disability, cancer, cerebral palsy, diabetes, epilepsy, HIV, multiple sclerosis, depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, OCD, schizophrenia, muscular dystrophy. 
  4. Confirms that temporary or episodic conditions (including those in remission) may qualify as disabilities and that it is appropriate to consider the additional time, effort or pain the employee experiences in performing a major life activity in determining whether it is substantially limited (i.e., the conditions under which the individuals performs the activity).
  5. Confirms that individuals qualifying as "disabled" only under the "perceived as" prong are not entitled to reasonable accommodation but those who are disabled due to "actual disability" or a "record of disability" are entitled to reasonable accommodations that do not cause undue hardship.

 You can access a full copy of the regulations here.