from Teresa Carson, Associate Publisher
On Monday I attended a workshop, facilitated by John McEwen and Robert Carr from the NJ Theatre Alliance, on creating a three-year Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) plan, which the NJ State Council on the Arts requires of all of its grantees. Three years ago I was puzzled when I discovered that it was my responsibility to write the ADA plan. How did such a program apply to CKP? What did the ADA have to do with publishing books? CavanKerry isn’t a presenting organization. We don’t give gallery talks. CavanKerry doesn’t have a facility. As a matter of fact we don’t even have an office. So what was I going to include on an ADA plan? But writing that plan not only taught me how little I understood the ADA but also turned me into a strong advocate for it. My first “aha” moment happened at a meeting of the Bergen County Division of Disability Services when I watched, and cringed, as an individual with a disability struggled to open the sealed CKP brochure which described our LaurelBooks imprint, which are books about illness and disability. The irony was not lost on me.
I was very struck by one particular point that Carr made at the workshop: “An organization’s approach should be: we want to make sure that everybody can participate in our programs.” While CKP has always had some ADA-related programming and activities in place, I’m always looking for what more we can do. One thing we can certainly do more of is talk about the ADA. So, the CKP ADA Advisory Board has designated October as “Americans with Disabilities Act Awareness Month” on the blog. Some individuals with disabilities will write about their experiences. We’ll share articles and handbooks. I’ll do an interview with Robert Carr. I’ll talk about CavanKerry’s commitment to ADA-related programs and activities. You’ll meet the members of the CKP ADA Advisory Board.
But let’s start with the basics: What is the ADA? Who does it cover? What does it cover? The ADA.gov website is chockfull of good information including this description of the ADA:
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA is one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life — to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services. Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin – and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 — the ADA is an “equal opportunity” law for people with disabilities.
To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability, which is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.
And what is the definition of “a disability”? Per the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended:
Sec. 12102. Definition of disability
As used in this chapter:
The term “disability” means, with respect to an individual
(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual;
(B) a record of such an impairment; or
(C) being regarded as having such an impairment (as described in paragraph (3)).
(2) Major Life Activities
(A) In general
For purposes of paragraph (1), major life activities include, but are 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.
(B) Major bodily functions
For purposes of paragraph (1), 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.
(3) Regarded as having such an impairment
For purposes of paragraph (1)(C):
(A) An individual meets the requirement of “being regarded as having such an impairment” if the individual establishes that he or she has been subjected to an action prohibited under this chapter because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity.
(B) Paragraph (1)(C) shall not apply to impairments that are transitory and minor. A transitory impairment is an impairment with an actual or expected duration of 6 months or less.
(4) Rules of construction regarding the definition of disability
The definition of “disability” in paragraph (1) shall be construed in accordance with the following:
(A) The definition of disability in this chapter shall be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals under this chapter, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of this chapter.
(B) The term “substantially limits” shall be interpreted consistently with the findings and purposes of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.
(C) An impairment that substantially limits one major life activity need not limit other major life activities in order to be considered a disability.
(D) An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.
(i) The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures such as
(I) medication, medical supplies, equipment, or appliances, low-vision devices (which do not include ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses), prosthetics including limbs and devices, hearing aids and cochlear implants or other implantable hearing devices, mobility devices, or oxygen therapy equipment and supplies;
(II) use of assistive technology;
(III) reasonable accommodations or auxiliary aids or services; or
(IV) learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications.
(ii) The ameliorative effects of the mitigating measures of ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses shall be considered in determining whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity.
(iii) As used in this subparagraph
(I) the term “ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses” means lenses that are intended to fully correct visual acuity or eliminate refractive error; and
(II) the term “low-vision devices” means devices that magnify, enhance, or otherwise augment a visual image.