The Eighth Day of APH CareerConnect: 8 Thoughts and Considerations on Job Accommodations for Workers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Joe Strechay, using his iPhone

For the eighth day of APH CareerConnect’s 12 Days of APH CareerConnect countdown of great tips and advice, I will be providing you with eight thoughts and considerations on employment accommodations for workers who are blind or visually impaired. As I travel around the United States providing workshops for youth and adults who are blind or visually impaired or professionals, this topic comes up a lot. So, here is a little holiday gift for you:

Eight Thoughts and Considerations on Job Accommodations

8. Knowing your own accommodations or possible accommodations: The fact is you should have a good idea about your possible accommodations for work. You might not know the exact accommodations, and some might pop up while on the job, but you should have a basic idea of the type of accommodation(s) you need.

7. Try out technology before including it as an accommodation. Sometimes, people will choose technology that they have never used as an accommodation, and this is a mistake. Take the time to research and test out technology. It is not always the coolest and latest technology that best meets your needs.

6. Related to the prior tip, you don’t want to have an older version of a screen reader or screen magnifier unless the operating system and Internet browser are older, too. Updates can make a big difference for the accessibility and efficiency of using current browsers. Stay up to date on the impact of updates to Internet browsers and other software as well, as access technology often runs best a version or two behind the latest version of a browser.

5. Job accommodations are about providing access and efficiency. Employers care about the efficiency of work, and this means your accommodations would be in their best interest. This is aside from the legal reasons for job accommodations.

4. Typically, job accommodations don’t cost a lot of money to help provide access, and state vocational rehabilitation agencies are willing to assist in these costs to make employment accessible. The average cost is between $500 to $800 for a person who is blind or visually impaired. Some of these costs have dropped due to the use of open-source, internal accessibility features, and deals like the Microsoft and GW Micro partnership.

3. Job accommodations are more than software and physical accommodations. Accommodations could include your schedule within reason. Physical accommodations could include lighting, contrast, wearing of a hat or visor, access for a wheelchair, a safe dog relief area, and many other things.

2. Most people would not consider requesting a job accommodation for no reason, but it is a smart idea to be reasonable about your list of accommodations. Be upfront and honest about the importance of your accommodations. Don’t downplay the importance of your needs, and take the time to write out an appropriate justification.

1. Analyze the job tasks that will have to be completed on the job. What accommodations might be necessary to complete these tasks? Vocational rehabilitation could assist with figuring this out. Using a job analysis can be beneficial in figuring out the necessary accommodations. Reasonable accommodations include many things besides hiring an individual to complete essential job tasks. The fact is that you need to be able to complete essential job tasks or duties.

Aside from the tips above, a note to employers: Moving from one screen-reading software is not as simple as it might seem. A consumer has to learn all of the commands associated and become efficient at using it. It is not impossible, but you are better off allowing an employee to utilize the software he or she is most familiar with for success.

I provided you with eight tips and considerations for the eighth day, but there are way more than eight to consider. Take the time to read some of our other pieces on job accommodations. AFB Press offers an AFB eLearning course called Working with Job Seekers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired (you have to purchase this resource). Here are some free resources to check out: