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About Little Person
JAN receives calls regarding accommodations for little people. Little people are typically those individuals of short stature ranging below 4'10". Some little people may not need any accommodations while others may need accommodations. Frequently requested accommodations include modifications to the work-site and work-station, accommodations for toiletings/grooming issues, and accommodations to maintain workplace safety. Typical limitations include orthopedic conditions such as spinal stenosis and joint disease as well as difficulty accessing workplace settings designed for an average-height person.
Little Person 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 Little Person
Little people 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 who are little people 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 little person interviewed for a cashier position at a retail store.
The employer asked her to demonstrate how she would operate the cash register and ring out material goods. The applicant explained that with the use of a simple work platform she would be able to reach everything she needed in order to perform the job successfully.
After being offered the customer service representative position, the employee who was a little person requested modifications to their work-station.
The employer provided him with a smaller chair and lowered their desk to make it more accessible for the employee.
A little person who taught at a local high school got assigned to different subject matters in the new school year.
This would require her to move classrooms multiple times a day and the classrooms were spread over a sizable campus. The employee voiced her concern of traveling to her destination on time. The employer provided her with a small scooter which enabled her to get to the different classrooms quickly.
A machinist of short stature had trouble keeping his safety glasses on.
The employer noticed and had concerns for his safety. The employer called JAN and was able to receive a vendor list of manufacturers for safety glasses that fit adults with smaller faces. This enabled the employee to continue working while maintaining safety.
A secretary who was a little person was having difficulty typing into the computer due to the keyboard size.
Performance was suffering, so she made a request for reasonable accommodation. The employer ended up providing the employee with speech recognition software coupled with a miniature keyboard. The employee’s performance improved and the employer retained a valued employee.