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Accommodation and Compliance: Ataxia

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About Ataxia

Friedreich's, the best known inherited ataxia, and other cerebellar ataxias are impairments of the nervous system, most of which are inherited. They share many of the same symptoms, including unsteadiness and inability to coordinate movement. Friedreich`s Ataxia usually reveals itself in childhood while cerebellar ataxia is diagnosed more often in adults. A majority of individuals with ataxia use mobility aids and have difficulty with their speech, although mental abilities are unaffected. Other ataxias are idiopathic, that is, they just occur.

Ataxia 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 Ataxia

People with ataxia 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 ataxia 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:

  1. What limitations is the employee experiencing?
  2. How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance?
  3. What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
  4. What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?
  5. 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?
  6. Do supervisory personnel and employees need training?

Accommodation Ideas:

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.

Events Regarding Ataxia

Other Information Regarding Ataxia


A-T Children's Project
A-T Ease Foundation, Inc.
Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA)
International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society
Job Accommodation Network
Mayo Clinic
Muscular Dystrophy Association
National Ataxia Foundation
National Cancer Institute
National Center for Biotechnology Information
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Organization for Rare Disorders
Pediatric Brain Foundation