Woman sits at desk using a screen reader for her computer work

Managing Vision Loss and Work: Self-Advocacy and Accommodations

About 37 percent of adults with significant vision loss are employed. If you are losing your vision or currently visually impaired, it can be difficult to understand what rights and benefits you have. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) outlines exactly how and when it is required to talk to your employer about your visual disability.1

Knowing what to do at every step of the process can be helpful to make the most of your career, accommodations, and available benefits.

Disclosing a visual disability to an employer

Thinking about talking to employers about your vision loss can be stressful. But knowing how and when to approach conversations about it can help.

The ADA says that even if a disability is obvious, the decision to talk about it is in the hands of the employee or applicant. This decision applies to every step of the job process.1

An employer cannot take back an offer of employment due to a visual disability, as long as the employee is able to safely do the job with or without a reasonable accommodation. You can decide to discuss your vision issues if you feel they are relevant or if you will need reasonable accommodations.1

A discussion with an employer about a visual disability can be as simple as telling them about the condition and requesting accommodation for it. This request can also come from a friend, family member, doctor, or other representative.

Employers and employees both should be ready to discuss the disability and accommodations. Understand that people you work with may not understand your visual disability. It is helpful to be clear about where you are having problems and to offers solutions that could help you in your job.

What is a reasonable accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation may include changes to:2

  • The hiring process
  • The way the job is done
  • The work environment that helps a person with a disability perform a job’s essential functions

For visual disabilities, this can include things like:1

  • An external computer screen magnifier
  • Software that will read the computer screen

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