Reflections on Workplace Accommodations for Blind and Low Vision Employees 

walking into a job interview at an office

Imagine you have just taken your seat for a job interview. Your skills and training have led you to this moment in your job search. You’re confident, and you’re ready for it. 

When the interviewer asks you which reasonable accommodations will be necessary to perform your job responsibilities, you confidently explain what you need, including a screen reader, video magnifier, or a braille display.  

Then, instead of a long, uncomfortable pause, the interviewer says, “Great. Our entire information technology system is compatible with that screen reader software.” 

It may not seem like much, but that response would blow my mind. First, it would tell me that the company is aware of making its information technology systems accessible to employees who are blind or have low vision. Second, it would tell me that the company may prioritize disability employment, especially for employees who are blind or low vision. It demonstrates a situation where the human resources department knows the existing IT system and its capabilities for accommodating screen reader software. 

Yes, this is a hypothetical situation. It has never happened to me, but I imagine if it did or ever did happen, it would make me say, “Wow!” How about you? 

This would be a significant achievement in advancing employment outcomes for people with disabilities. Among larger companies, there are most likely some small successes in the area of disability employment, but what would it take to create widespread success? 

Setting Yourself Up for Success: Employment Outcomes that Are Under Your Control 

First things first, let’s talk about the things under our control when it comes to preparing for employment. 

  • Vocational rehabilitation is a must. Learning to live and to work with low vision or blindness is vital to long-term success. Reinventing yourself to function as a person with blindness or low vision is challenging. However, the trials and tribulations involved with such an undertaking can forge an iron will. 
  • Computer training is absolutely necessary these days. Successful computer use relies on learning to use a screen magnification or screen reader system. These adaptive systems create the link to becoming proficient computer users, a necessity in the workplace. 
  • Orientation and Mobility (O&M) skills are essential for getting around. Learning to travel independently is a must.Orientation and mobility training is super important. Whether you use a white cane or a dog guide, become proficient in this skill to get where you need to go. It will assist you with navigating indoors and outside your home and work. 
  • Along the way, you must also identify areas where you need to improve your soft and hard skills. They can help advance your career path and further your long-term objectives. Utilize APH ConnectCenter’s Job Seeker’s Toolkit to develop your soft skills. 

The Employer 

Now, let’s talk about things that are not under our control. 

Don’t take this the wrong way, but most employers are not ready to hire people who are blind or have low vision. By that, I mean the company’s IT systems may pose challenges to workers with visual impairments needing special computer software. 

I’ve encountered this situation a time or two during my career. I speak from experience when I say it can become a very frustrating hurdle. 

Dreaming about Access 

If I could wave a magic wand or sprinkle some fairy dust over the situation, I would make every company’s IT compatible with screen magnification and screen reader systems. I’d remove the barrier. 

Until that day, we must continue advocating for employers to recognize the needs of the blind worker, especially where access to a company’s IT system is concerned. Because most work is completed on a computer, access through magnification, speech, or braille is critical.  

Now, let’s backtrack to the imaginary situation at the beginning of this post. 

Qualified Candidates 

If you are a qualified job candidate who requires braille, speech, or magnification to use a computer, how good would you feel about your chances if the interviewer told you a screen reader worked on their systems? 

I would feel extremely positive. Also, it would show me that the company is serious about diversity and inclusivity in their workforce. Going the extra mile to ensure IT is accessible is an honorable achievement. Ensuring that a hiring manager is aware of the accommodation in the first place would be just as awesome. Dare I say, I would give all my best to work for a place like that! 

Parting Words 

We are responsible for preparing ourselves to live and work with a visual impairment. But imagine how sweet it could be if employers set the table for our success by building accessibility into company IT systems. A lot of work goes into ensuring the external user or customer can interact with a company. How about pouring some of that effort into improving internal access? 

It is possible. It may be happening occasionally, but we must make more progress together. Perhaps it is the key to improving disability employment outcomes among people who are blind or low vision.  

Learn More: 

Employer’s Guide to Accommodations for Blind and Low Vision Employees – ConnectCenter ( 

Employment Skills – ConnectCenter ( 

Ten Steps to Start Your Job Search – ConnectCenter (