President Bush Signs ADA Bill; Bush's Father Joins President at Bill-Signing (AP)

Senators Obama and Harkin Issue Statements on Signing of ADA Amendments Act

September 26, 2008

President George W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008, in the Oval Office of the White House.
WASHINGTON (AP) - With his father looking on, President Bush on Thursday signed legislation expanding the protections afforded by the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act to those who can use medication or other devices to treat impairments.

The original law was enacted in 1990, when former President George H.W. Bush, the current president's father, was in office. The act is widely regarded as one of the major features of civil rights legislation in the 20th century because it ensured that the disabled have access to public buildings and accommodations, thus giving them better access to the workforce.

But since its passage, the Supreme Court has generally exempted from the law's anti-discrimination protections those with partial physical disabilities or impairments that can be treated with medication or devices such as hearing aids.

The bill Bush signed on Thursday in the Oval Office directs the courts to a more generous application of the ADA's definition of disability, making it clear that Congress intended the law's coverage to be broad and to cover anyone facing discrimination because of a disability. It took months of difficult negotiations with the business community to arrive at a compromise.

Bush signed the bill without public comment or fanfare.