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  • Karen Howell, Esq.

Fibromyalgia and the ADA


When considering accommodations for people with FMS, the accommodation process must be conducted on a case-by-case basis. Symptoms caused by FMS vary, so when determining effective accommodations, the person's individual abilities and limitations should be considered and problematic job tasks must be identified. Therefore, the person with FMS should be involved in the accommodation process.

Not all people with FMS will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may need only a few accommodations.

ACCOMMODATION CONSIDERATIONS FOR PEOPLE WITH FMS

(Note: People with FMS will develop some of these limitations/symptoms, but seldom develop all of them. Limitations will vary among individuals. Also note that not all people who have FMS will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may need only a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions exist as well.)

Concentration Issues:

Provide written job instructions when possible

Prioritize job assignments and provide more structure

Allow flexible work hours and allow a self-pace workload

Allow periodic rest periods to reorient

Provide memory aids, such as schedulers or organizers

Minimize distractions

Reduce job stress

Depression and Anxiety:

Reduce distractions in work environment

Provide to-do lists and written instructions

Remind employee of important deadlines and meetings

Allow time off for counseling

Provide clear expectations of responsibilities and consequences

Provide sensitivity training to co-workers

Allow breaks to use stress management techniques

Develop strategies to deal with work problems before they arise

Allow telephone calls during work hours to doctors and others for support

Provide information on counseling and employee assistance programs

Fatigue/Weakness:

Reduce or eliminate physical exertion and workplace stress

Schedule periodic rest breaks away from the workstation

Allow a flexible work schedule and flexible use of leave time

Allow work from home

Implement ergonomic workstation design

Fine Motor Impairment:

Implement ergonomic workstation design

Provide alternative computer access

Provide alternative telephone access

Provide arm supports

Provide writing and grip aids

Provide a page turner and a book holder

Provide a note taker

Gross Motor Impairment:

Modify the work-site to make it accessible

Provide parking close to the work-site

Provide an accessible entrance

Install automatic door openers

Move workstation close to other work areas, office equipment, and break rooms

Migraine Headaches:

Provide task lighting

Eliminate fluorescent lighting

Use computer monitor glare guards

Reduce noise with sound absorbent baffles/partitions, environmental sound machines, and headsets

Provide alternate work space to reduce visual and auditory distractions

Implement a "fragrance-free" workplace policy

Provide air purification devices

Allow flexible work hours

Allow periodic rest breaks

Allow work from home

Respiratory Difficulties:

Provide adjustable ventilation

Keep work environment free from dust, smoke, odor, and fumes

Implement a "fragrance-free" workplace policy and a "smoke free" building policy

Avoid temperature extremes

Use fan/air-conditioner or heater at the workstation

Redirect air conditioning and heating vents

Provide adequate exhaust systems to remove fumes from office machines

Allow individual to wear a respirator mask

Allow work from home

Skin Irritations:

Avoid infectious agents and chemicals

Provide protective clothing

Sleep Disorder:

Allow flexible work hours and frequent breaks

Allow work from home

Temperature Sensitivity:

Modify work-site temperature and maintain the ventilation system

Modify dress code

Use fan/air-conditioner or heater at the workstation and redirect vents

Allow flexible scheduling and work from home during extremely hot or cold weather

Provide an office with separate temperature control

#fibromyalgiaada

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