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Workplace accommodations

Employers are required to provide job applicants and employees with disabilities “reasonable accommodations” that allow them equal opportunities.

A tall man in a suit using his cane at a career event.

Through the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are required to provide job applicants and employees with disabilities “reasonable accommodations” that allow them to enjoy equal employment opportunities. Accommodations will vary depending on the needs of the individual, but the ones listed below are examples of adjustments or modifications that are often requested by employees who are blind or visually impaired.

  1. Modification of an employment test. When applying for jobs, a potential applicant who is blind or visually impaired should be able to request that elements of the application process that require sight be modified or made.
  2. Assistive technology. Assistive technology is one of the most important accommodations for employees who are blind or visually impaired, allowing them to access computers and other systems in the workplace with ease. Popular examples of assistive technology include:
    • Scanners
    • Magnifiers
    • Digital recorders
    • Screen reading software
    • Refreshable braille displays
    • Braille embossers
  3. Accessible website. Employee portals, message boards and other sites should be accessible to workers without vision. If employees cannot access a website or online system that their job requires you to use, they should be able to request that it be made accessible.
  4. Guide dogs. Even in offices with no-pet policies, employees who use guide dogs should be able to request an exception to allow them to bring their dog to work.
  5. Modified training. If the workplace is rolling out a new system or upgrading its computer programs, an all-staff training session may not cover keyboard commands or other details specific to assistive technology users. Employees who are blind or visually impaired should be able to request individualized instruction to allow them to learn these systems properly.
  6. Written materials. Employees with a visual impairment should feel comfortable requesting that all written materials required for their job be available in their preferred accessible format—whether that’s braille, large print or audio.
  7. Flexible schedule. Public transportation or other transit services often dictate commuting schedules for people who are blind or visually impaired. Employees should be able to request modified work schedules allowing them to work the requisite number of hours by staying late or coming in early without facing discipline for tardiness caused by transportation.
  8. Work from home option. As long as it doesn’t interfere with productivity, employees who are blind or visually impaired should be able to request a work from home arrangement when their disability makes it difficult for them to travel to the office (e.g. in inclement weather).
  9. Time off. From time to time, employees who are blind or visually impaired may need to take extended time off either for medical treatment or programs related to their disability (e.g. guide dog training). They should be able to request unpaid time off for these events, even if they don’t have the accrued time to accommodate it.
  10. Transportation costs. If transportation is required for a blind or visually impaired employee to perform the essential functions of their job, they should be able to ask for a driver or reimbursement for the cost of transportation.
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