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About Poliomyelitis (Polio)/Post Polio
Polio (poliomyelitis) is a disorder caused by a viral infection (poliovirus) that can affect the whole body, including muscles and nerves. Severe cases may cause permanent paralysis or death. Polio occurs worldwide; however, no cases of polio have been reported in the United States in recent years (the last case of non-vaccine related polio acquired in the United States was in 1979).
Poliomyelitis (Polio)/Post Polio 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 Poliomyelitis (Polio)/Post Polio
People with post-polio syndrome 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 post-polio syndrome 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?
- Has the employee been consulted regarding 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:
A cashier at a large retailer had standing limitations stemming from post-polio syndrome.
Work shifts required him to stand for 8 hours, but he was physically incapable of standing that long. The employer couldn’t limit the hours worked, but did get the employee a stand/lean stool which permitted him to continue working from a seated position but still allowed him the reach and accessibility to perform his cashier duties.
A social worker had difficulty performing activities of daily living due to her post-polio syndrome.
She was late getting back to work following her allotted breaks because it took her longer to use the restroom and feed herself. After discussing the issue with her employer, they decided to grant additional time to her existing breaks, enabling her to use the restroom as needed and also finish lunch before having to get back to work.
A meat packing inspector with post-polio syndrome was limited in balancing and had difficulty maintaining his balance on slick floors.
The company implemented a policy change that involved having the floors cleaned during specific times of the day, prior to his inspections.
An auditor within the federal government had post-polio syndrome and used a wheelchair.
The employee was required to do her case notes and get them filed within a certain amount of time. The cubical made it hard for her to access the current file system. The employer ended up changing her cubical layout and implementing an automatic filing system.
A customer service representative with post-polio syndrome only had function of their right hand.
The employee had trouble inputting data into the computer. The employee was accommodated with a one-handed keyboard and an alternative mouse, this enabled her to navigate the computer.
A mental health counselor with post-polio syndrome used a scooter to navigate at work.
The employer recently redesigned the layout, moving the time clock further away from the employee’s workstation. The employer modified the policy to enable the employee to use paper timeclocks instead of the wall mounted one. This enabled the employee to still maintain his timecard without having to navigate the far distances.
JAN Publications & Articles Regarding Poliomyelitis (Polio)/Post Polio
Accommodation and Compliance Series
Consultants' Corner Articles
- A Support Person as an Accommodation
- Accommodations for Housekeeping/Janitorial Workers with Industrial Injuries
- 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