How can I help a current employee who is experiencing blindness or low vision?

From time to time, employees experience vision loss due to illness, accidents, or aging. As an employer, there are steps you can take to help your employee remain on the job as a valued and productive member of the team. Read on for tips or view our Human Resources Guide for Working with Employees Experiencing Vision Loss for more in-depth information.

What is vision loss?

A common misperception is that blindness equals total darkness. The majority of people considered “legally blind” have some level of useable vision. Learn more about different types of vision loss and their causes. 

How can I tell if an employee is experiencing vision loss?

If an employee is suddenly having trouble in the following areas, he or she may be experiencing vision loss:

  • Difficulty completing paperwork
  • Struggling to read standard-size print
  • Having a hard time locating the cursor on his or her computer
  • Reporting frequent eyestrain or headaches
  • Exhibiting decreased productivity in his or her job role

How can I help my employee stay in his or her job?

Your employee will likely need accommodations to remain productive in his or her job. As an employer, you are legally required to provide reasonable accommodations for an employee who needs them. Many accommodations are available at little or no cost to you and involve minimal change to the work environment. Click here to learn more about common job accommodations for workers who are blind or have low vision.

What are vocational rehabilitation services, and how can they help?

Vocational rehabilitation programs are federally funded agencies that operate in each US state. Their mission is to help individuals with disabilities and the businesses that employ them. Vocational rehabilitation staff can help you:

  • Determine which accommodations would be most helpful for your employee
  • Determine how to pay for any needed accommodations, including offering financial assistance in some circumstances
  • Train your employee to use any new assistive technology or devices in the workplace
  • Create a workplace characterized by diversity and inclusion

Locate vocational rehabilitation agencies in your state.

Will an employee experiencing vision loss be able to maintain or regain his or her former level of productivity?

Yes! Employees with disabilities should be held to the same performance levels as other employees. You are not required to alter or lower workplace productivity standards in order to accommodate an employee with vision loss. With the right accommodations and training, many people who experience vision loss maintain fulfilling and productive careers.

Learn more about how you can help

Working with an employee who experiences vision loss can initially be challenging for human resources (HR) managers and supervisors unfamiliar with blindness or low vision, especially if unaware of the various accommodations available to assist persons with vision loss in completing job duties. This guide provides useful information and guidance for HR staff who are helping employees who experience vision loss maintain employment.

A Human Resources Guide for Working with Employees Experiencing Vision Loss