According to the National Federation of the Blind, you are considered visually impaired if you must use alternative methods (not including corrective lenses) to engage in any activity that people with normal vision would be able to do simply using their eyes. In the United States, 2.4%, or 7,675,600 adults, have significant vision loss or are visually impaired. 29.5% of non-institutionalized persons aged 21-64 years with a visual disability in the United States, or 1,120,700 adults, are employed full-time.
This means that about 70% of working-age adults who are visually impaired are not currently employed full-time. This may be because there are unique challenges to daily life and employment for adults who are blind. Commuting to an office every day can be challenging, especially for those who are visually impaired and don’t live close to public transportation access.
Many positions may require visual ability to complete job tasks, such as a cashier who must scan merchandise or a secretary who is required to read written notes. However, the types of jobs available for adults with visual impairments are on the rise. With the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are more receptive to providing accommodations for visually impaired employees.
Employers with 15 or more employees are required to follow the legislation outlined in the ADA. These laws ensure that the employer doesn’t discriminate against a potential or current employee due to his or her disability.
During the job application process, an employer can ask a candidate if he or she can perform all job functions adequately. However, the employer cannot ask details about vision impairment, including probing for information about medical procedures or prescriptions.
Job candidates with visual impairments must disclose their conditions if they need reasonable accommodations to complete the job application process. For example, if a job candidate needs to be escorted from the lobby to the conference room where the job interview is conducted, he or she must give this notice to the potential employer before attending the interview.
After acceptance of employment, the employer may ask questions about what accommodations are needed by the new employee. The employer cannot rescind the offer of employment after finding out the new employee is blind, as long as it’s proven that the new employee will be able to complete the job tasks as assigned.
The ADA states that an employer must provide reasonable accommodations during employment when a disabled employee requests them. However, the requests must be reasonable and the employer can refuse if it would cause the company undue stress or hardship.
For example, if a visually impaired employee wants to complete a training course that is offered to all other employees, the employer must provide training course content designed for those with visual impairments. However, if an employee with visual impairments asks to only work a six-hour day, an employer can refuse this unreasonable accommodation request.
There are many jobs available in different industries for people who are blind or visually impaired. Advanced technologies, including screen reading and magnifying software, have increased the number of jobs that people with these impairments can hold. Comparing these positions’ benefits, salaries, and outlook can help those who are visually impaired choose careers that suit their needs.
Outlook: Counselors are in demand. Career outlook is growing at 13%, faster than average.
There are many jobs that can be performed at home, and with the advancement of technology, many companies are allowing employees to work remotely. This eliminates the hassle of a commute, and the homes of people with visual impairments are often already optimized for their use. This allows for a high productivity level and performance of job functions without asking the employer for workplace accommodations.
When you begin your search for employment, it’s important to identify jobs that interest you. Learning about the company culture and the work environment you’ll be in can also help you to pinpoint local companies you know you’ll feel comfortable working for.
There are many employers that specifically look for visually impaired candidates to fill open positions. Certain organizations in your community may be able to connect you to these companies.
When you find job opportunities that suit your needs, ensure that you inform the potential employer about your visual impairment in your cover letter. If you aren’t asked for a cover letter, contact the employer to disclose information about your visual impairment. It’s important to provide this information upfront, just in case you need to request accommodations to complete the job interview or onboarding process.
There are numerous resources for people with disabilities, and many are designed specifically to assist the visually impaired. These resources provide assistance with job searching, career advancement, information, regulations on accommodation requests, and group support: