(Note to professionals: Students will need knowledge of or instruction in disability disclosure before completing this lesson.)

Name(s) of students(s):

Age and grade level:

Goal or objective from IEP connected to lesson:

After completion of the lesson, the student will be able to:

  • Describe the student’s eye condition(s) in simple and practical terms (versus medical terms).
  • Use an ability statement to disclose the student’s disability.

Materials needed: Note taking device, Internet access, and personal resource file

Discussion: Practical Versus Medical Terms

“As you learned in the last lesson, it is important for you to know both the medical definition and functional implications of your visual impairment. There will be many instances in your life in which you will need to discuss your visual impairment with others. Whether it is to advocate for yourself on the bus or to ask for accommodations at work, you will need to continuously educate others about the implications of your vision loss. Most people with whom you will need to share this information will not be familiar with the medical terminology—such as “My acuity is 20/400” or “I have photophobia”—related to your eye condition. Therefore, as important as it is to be able to share that you have a specific eye condition (such as retinopathy of prematurity) and to know your acuities, it is also important to be able to describe your eye condition using practical terms that are easy for others to understand.

Jane’s Story: An Ability Statement

Jane has coloboma of the iris. When she describes her visual impairment to her colleagues at work, she says: “I was born with underdeveloped eyes which left me with a gap in the irises of both of my eyes. There are many things I do to make sure my visual impairment doesn’t limit what I can do. Since my iris doesn’t work normally, I am sensitive to bright light, but I adapt to this by wearing a sun visor and sunglasses. When I use my computer, I adjust the brightness of the light projecting from the screen by adjusting my computer’s settings. Things more than 15 feet away appear blurry to me, but I use a telescope when I need to read things such as a street sign or the menu at McDonald’s. I can’t drive and that’s okay with me because I don’t have a car payment! I take the city bus, cabs, and sometimes I pay my friends to give me a lift. Planning ahead or waiting for my transportation can sometimes be an inconvenience but I do not let it interfere with getting to work on time. I access print by using a handheld magnifier and a special program on my computer that allows me to enlarge the text. I produce print by typing on my computer and can sign my name using a signature guide. As you can see, I compensate very well for having a vision loss.”

While discussing her visual impairment, Jane simultaneously promoted and described herself in a positive way. Though some might describe this as a “disability statement,” since Jane focused on her abilities and the things she can do, we prefer the term “ability statement.”

CareerConnect Disability/Ability Statement Resources

Students can review the following pages for more information on disclosure and ability statements:

Activity 1: My Abilities

  1. Use the Glossary of Eye Conditions to research your eye condition. How would you use this information to disclose your disability?
  2. Type an ability statement you can use to promote yourself to a future employer. File the statement in your resource file.

Progress notes:


Goal of next lesson: