Press Releases

Americans with Disabilities Act Gets a Boost from Unanimous Vote on New Bill in US Senate

Sep 12, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 12, 2008—

The Epilepsy Foundation applauds the Senate for passing the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (S. 3406) by unanimous consent. This marks a historic move toward securing the promise of the original Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in 1990. Visit for more information.

“This is a major victory for people with epilepsy who have seen their protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act disappear over the last decade,” said Eric R. Hargis, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation. “We salute Congress for making great strides towards strengthening the American workforce.”

     The bill now moves to the House for a vote next week on technical changes between the Senate version of the legislation and the House bill that was passed by an overwhelming vote of 402–17.  The President is expected to sign this bill into law in September. The Foundation joins hundreds of employer, disability, faith, civil rights and veterans’ organizations who have supported the ADA Amendments Act and have worked in a strong collaboration to secure the promise of the ADA, as it was originally envisioned.

     "With today’s vote we have restored the promise of the ADA, which was signed into law 18 years ago," said Senator Tom Harkin (Iowa), the chief author of the original ADA. "The protections afforded under this historic law have been eroded and the result is that people with serious conditions like epilepsy or diabetes could be forced to choose between treating their conditions and forfeiting their protections under the law. That is not what Congress intended when we passed the law, and this bill is the right fix.

        "This is a historic day," said Senator Orrin Hatch (Utah). "This bill continues our ongoing effort to expand opportunities for individuals with disabilities to participate in the American Dream. Passage of the ADA Amendments Act ensures that the Americans with Disabilities Act will continue to help change lives. I'm proud to have worked with my good friend Tom Harkin in crafting this monumental bill that enjoys such strong bipartisan support."

         This legislation clarifies for the courts that people with disabilities should not lose civil rights protections because their condition is treatable with medication or can be addressed with the help of assistive technology. It also addresses the definition of disability making it clear that Congress intended the ADA’s coverage to be broad, to cover anyone who faces unfair discrimination because of a disability.

         In the past, Supreme Court rulings have eroded the ADA, leaving people with disabilities including epilepsy, diabetes, cancer and mental illness without the protections Congress envisioned when the ADA was originally enacted.

About the Epilepsy Foundation

The Epilepsy Foundation, a national non-profit with affiliated organizations throughout the United States, has led the fight against epilepsy since 1968. The Foundation’s goals are to ensure that people with seizures are able to participate in all life experiences; and prevent, control and cure epilepsy through services, education, advocacy and research, so not another moment is lost to seizures. For additional information, please visit

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