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From Plymouth, Minnesota, USA:

I've been searching for the definition of disability regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act, but can't find one. My daughter is a college student who has had diabetes since the age of 13 and, many times, applications for grants/scholarships ask if the student has a disability. If yes, the student is more likely to receive some type of aid. Therefore, can you tell me where I can find out if it would be appropriate for us to indicate she has a disability on the many financial aid application forms? We have not declared a disability in the past.


The definition of disability under the American's With Disabilities Act has several variations. That is because the ADA attempts to regulate in different situations and modalities. In the context in which your daughter studies at a university, Title II of the ADA establishes that an institution that receives public funds cannot discriminate against a person who is disabled. A helpful definition of disability is: an impairment, either mental or physical, that limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include the ability to care for yourself, learn, work, walk, see, hear, speak, breathe, or maintain social relationships, among others. A good web site for information about the ADA is produced by the Boston University Center for Public Resources.


Additional comments from Debbie Butler, MSW, LICSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker:

It is my understanding that type 1 diabetes is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. You may want to look the American Diabetes Association's page on the Americans Disabilities Act.


Additional comments from Dr. Jim Lane:

Most organizations have a definition of disability. Asking the agency in charge of compiling the information is reasonable. Most patients with diabetes at your daughter's age will not have developed severe end-organ complications. If you are filling out financial aid forms and none exists, you might consider placing this in the file. There are perfectly legitimate reasons for doing so, including added costs of medical care, insurance, supplies, and time (not to mention the added inconveniences). This does not mean that you or your daughter expect less from her performance or achievement.


Original posting 2 Aug 2005
Posted to Other


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:10:04
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