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About Leg Impairment
Leg impairments can arise from injuries, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, burns, and other conditions. They can be isolated to the leg or exist as a part of another condition. Limitations most often affect walking and can be painful.
Leg Impairment and the Americans with Disabilities Act
The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet. A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having 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 Leg Impairment
People with limitations from a leg impairment 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 leg impairments 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?
- Limiting lifting, reaching, pushing, and pulling by job restructuring
- Using Proper Lifting Techniques
- Reallocating lifting duties, if marginal
- Providing assistance moving objects, to reduce weight
- Organizing items in a way that reduces the need to move or lift items
- Reducing weight to be lifted by separating items into smaller groups
- Reassigning an employee to a modified duty position or modifying duties by removing the lifting duties
Situations and Solutions:
A college coordinator had reflex sympathetic dystrophy, which made her legs swell.
The employee had to elevate her legs periodically throughout the day. The employer purchased a specialized reclining office chair with footrest. The employee was able to continue working at full production with the new chair and a laptop.
A construction worker with a leg impairment couldn’t climb ladders due to an injury he received away from work.
After having a discussion with the employer, together they found an aerial lift that would permit the employee to reach the areas he needed and continue to be successful in his job.
A customer service agent for an insurance company was pregnant and experiencing significant leg and back pain when sitting for long periods of time.
She also needed to use the restroom frequently. The employer provided an adjustable workstation to enable the employee to alternate between sitting and standing positions. The employer also allowed her to take more frequent rest breaks by dividing her existing thirty-minutes of break time into several smaller increments of time so she could use the restroom as-needed.
An emergency room nurse with a leg impairment had walking restrictions.
She couldn’t keep up with the fast paced environment in the emergency room, so her employer reassigned her to an outpatient clinic where she could use a wheelchair the hospital already owned. This enabled the employer to retain a valued skilled employee.
An accountant with a temporary leg impairment couldn’t climb the stairs at her office building.
The employee’s office was on the 2nd floor. She was accommodated by moving her workstation to the first floor until her leg healed.
A customer service representative at a financial institution couldn’t sit in a vehicle for any length of time due to a newly acquired leg impairment, preventing her from being able to commute to work.
The employer called JAN to learn about its responsibilities as an employer for commuting issues. The employer permitted the employee to telework from home as a reasonable accommodation.
A quality inspector for a manufacturing company was experiencing painful swelling in her legs, ankles, and feet during pregnancy.
Her job required standing for long periods of time and she needed to be somewhat mobile. Her medical provider recommended that she take breaks to get off her feet. The employer provided a stand/lean stool to enable her to take pressure off her feet, as-needed, added anti-fatigue matting to her work area, and permitted the employee to rest with her feet up during breaks.
A production assembly line worker had symptoms of frequent urination and diabetic neuropathy in his legs.
The employee could not leave his work area except during scheduled breaks. Accommodation included the use anti-fatigue mat, sit/stand/lean stool, and an in-house paging system to notify the supervisor that a replacement is needed while the employee takes a restroom break.
A kindergarten teacher with a leg impairment couldn’t bend down to the student’s desks.
The job required her to have close contact so she could check student’s work. The employer provided the teacher with a low task chair which enabled the teacher to get down to desk level.
JAN Publications & Articles Regarding Leg Impairment
Accommodation and Compliance Series
Consultants' Corner Articles
- A Support Person as an Accommodation
- Accommodations for Housekeeping/Janitorial Workers with Motor Impairments
- Accommodations Related to Commuting To and From Work
- Best Practices for Addressing Requests for Ergonomic Chairs
- Confidentiality of Medical Information under the ADA
- Hidden Disabilities: Confidentiality and Travel