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ALS/Lou Gehrig's Disease

Accommodation and Compliance: Employees with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)/Lou Gehrig's Disease

About ALS/Lou Gehrig's Disease

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting the nerve cells of the spinal cord and brain. As ALS progresses, the motor neurons that span from the brain to the spinal cord to the muscles are destroyed, leading to loss of muscle control. This can lead to involuntary muscle movements as well as the inability to speak, swallow, and breathe. Two types of ALS are known: Familial (which is inherited) and Sporadic. Sporadic is the most common, comprising almost 95% of ALS cases. Around 20,000 people in the US have ALS and most are diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 70.

ALS/Lou Gehrig's Disease 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 ALS/Lou Gehrig's Disease

People with limitations from ALS 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 ALS 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. Has the employee been consulted regarding possible accommodations?
  6. 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?
  7. Do supervisory personnel and employees need training?

Accommodation Ideas:

Events Regarding ALS/Lou Gehrig's Disease