Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 and Section 504 Evaluations

In the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) Congress created a new rule addressing the impact of mitigating measures during the evaluation and disability determination process. Mitigating measures are services or things provided to the student or used by the student to decrease the impact of an impairment. The ADAAA provides a list of examples of mitigating measures, which includes (but is not limited to) the following:

  • 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;
  • use of assistive technology;
  • reasonable accommodations or auxiliary aids or services; or
  • learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications (42 USC §12102(4)(E)).

The ADAAA mitigating measures rule provides that when making the disability determination, “the determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures.” Therefore, in determining whether a student has a disability, the Section 504 team must ignore any positive impact of mitigating measures. For example, when determining whether a student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is disabled, the Section 504 team must make that determination without considering the positive effects of medication that the student is using.

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Dispel the Myth
MYTH: A medical diagnosis is required to determine whether a disability exists under Section 504 for students with characteristics of an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

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