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About Addison's Disease
Addison's disease is a rare endocrine, or hormonal disorder that affects about 1 in 100,000 people. It occurs in all age groups and affects men and women equally. The disease is characterized by weight loss, muscle weakness, fatigue, low blood pressure, and sometimes darkening of the skin in both exposed and nonexposed parts of the body. Addison's is a severe or total deficiency of the hormones made in the adrenal cortex.
Addison's Disease and the Americans with Disabilities Act
The ADA does not contain a definitive list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA defines a person with a disability as someone who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more "major life activities," (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA, see How to Determine Whether a Person Has a Disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA).
Accommodating Employees with Addison's Disease
People with Addison's Disease may develop some of the limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. Also, the degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Be aware that not all people with Addison's Disease will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.
Questions to Consider:
- What limitations is the employee experiencing?
- How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance?
- What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
- What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?
- Once accommodations are in place, would it be useful to meet with the employee to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations and to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?
- Do supervisory personnel and employees need training?
Situations and Solutions:
The following situations and solutions are real-life examples of accommodations that were made by JAN customers. Because accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis, these examples may not be effective for every workplace but give you an idea about the types of accommodations that are possible.
A dental hygienist had Addison's disease.
She had difficulty leaning over patients. Her employer accommodated her with a forward-leaning chair.
A counselor with Addison's disease was dealing with severe fatigue and depression.
The individual was given a flexible schedule to work around his fatigue and attend counseling.
A lab technician had difficulty standing for long periods of time due to Addison's disease.
The individual was accommodated with a stand/lean stool.
A computer programmer with Addison's disease was dealing with progressive vision loss.
He was accommodated with magnification and software to enlarge his computer screen.
A marketing analyst had problems working in areas with air conditioning due to Addison's disease.
She was susceptible to the cold air. She was accommodated with a space heater.