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What is a disability?

The Federal Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act provides protections for people with disabilities. The Fair Housing Act uses the term, “handicap” while the Americans with Disabilities Act uses the term, “disability” but they are defined the same.

A person with a disability is someone who: (1) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities (i.e., caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, breathing, etc.); (2) has a record of such an impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. A disability does not include a current illegal use of or addiction to a controlled substance or is a transvestite. Courts have limited what constitutes a disability in a number of ways. For instance, the courts look to whether someone’s condition substantially limits a major life activity in its corrected condition. Therefore, someone who is legally blind without glasses is not disabled if they are not impaired if they were to be fitted with glasses.

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