This semester, we have talked about images, portrayals, and stigmas of individuals
with disabilities in the media. However, what are disabilities? Let’s take a look
at how disabilities are currently defined and protected.
Definitions of disability and beauty have changed over time; “concepts of beauty
and comeliness were different when physical injury, smallpox marks, and other scarring
were more common” (Disability and History). The Americans with Disabilities Act
was originally written in 1990, and originally required business, buildings, transportation,
public transportation, and other services to accommodate the disabled. Currently,
the ADA defines a person with a disability as “a person who has a physical or mental
impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. This includes
people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have
a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are
regarded as having a disability. The ADA also makes it unlawful to discriminate
against a person based on that person’s association with a person with a disability”
(What is the definition of Disability under the ADA?).