“Substantially limits” was revised under the new ADAAA. Previously, “substantially limits” was akin to “significantly restricted.” During ADAAA in 2008, Congress asked the EEOC to revise its regulations of “substantially limits” by lowering the standard and making it easier to qualify as “substantially limited” under ADA. Employers are directed to construe “substantially limits” broadly, providing individuals with the maximum benefit under the law.
It should be noted that court cases have shown that objective evidence is required to show that an individual is substantially limited in major life activities as compared to the general population (not to other disabled individuals). The Connecticut Labor & Employment Law Blog recently covered a federal case Rumbin v. Association of American Medical Colleges. The court ruled that impairments that merely “affect” major life activities do not rise to the level of a covered disability under ADA (Mar-2011).