Implications of the 2008 amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act for medical education

Acad Med. 2011 Jun;86(6):768-72. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318217e325.


The statutory language of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) affords antidiscrimination protection to persons who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities. The ADA comprises two major aspects: (1) whether one has a disability that qualifies for protection, and (2) if one does have a protected disability, whether the accommodations requested by the person with a disability are reasonable or unreasonable. Historically, many students who have challenged an institution's denial of accommodations in a court of law have been unsuccessful because they have been determined not to qualify as legally disabled. However, recent amendments to the ADA will affect how accommodation issues are handled by courts and, therefore, how medical colleges and other institutions make strategic decisions involving persons requesting special accommodations for learning disabilities under the ADA.In this article, the authors examine how the amendments to the ADA will affect the cases of persons with learning impairments who request special accommodations in medical education. This article focuses primarily on the issue of what constitutes a protected disability rather than on the reasonableness of accommodations. To examine this issue, the authors consider the narrow interpretations of the ADA that led to Congress enacting the amendments. The authors then discuss how the amendments might have influenced Wong v Regents of the University of California (2004). Finally, they examine the implications of the amendments for medical education and consider how they may affect a current case.

Publication types

  • Legal Case

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Civil Rights / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Clinical Clerkship
  • Disabled Persons / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Dyslexia*
  • Education, Medical / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Humans
  • United States