What is in this article?:
- Celiac and gluten intolerance now classified as 'disability'
- What constitutes disability?
A recent Department of Justice ruling says that celiac disease and gluten sensitivity qualify as "disabilities" under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The action raises interesting questions: What, exactly, is a disability? And how will this ruling affect other food-service operations, including restaurants?
What constitutes disability?
But people with "traditional" and physically visible disabilities may disagree. On January 25, a Forbes.com article by Alice G. Walton quoted bioethicist Dan O’Connor, PhD, on the question of what defines “disability”:
One school of thought is that it’s your body that’s disabled you. If you can’t walk and use a wheelchair, it’s your legs that disable you, for example. But the newer thinking is that it’s not your body that disables you, it’s the environment around you. That’s a much more interesting way to look at disability. So the onus isn’t on the ‘disabled’ person, it’s on the environment and on all of us. … Who’s really disabled? The traditionally disabled may worry that political gains they’ve made will be left behind.
Citizen comments on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere reacting to the DOJ decision include the following:
For those of us who deal with food allergies, sensitivities, and celiac, this case may fall into the “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” category. Many people still don’t understand the seriousness and pervasiveness of food intolerances. Clearly, the Lesley University outcome will raise the awareness factor, and it remains to be seen how it impacts business and manufacturers alike.
What’s your opinion: Is "disability" too strong a category for food intolerance? What's a reasonable expectation for places that serve food?