Many people assume that visually impaired individuals aren’t capable of holding down most job roles since they can’t see well or at all. The truth is that most individuals that have visual impairments can work in most job roles, provided that their employer makes minor accommodations for them.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) affords protections to disabled job applicants and existing employees. Virtually all employers must provide reasonable accommodations to allow anyone who qualifies for a job to assume a role. These same laws prohibit employers from demoting, firing or otherwise penalizing disabled workers, such as those with visual impairments.
What constitutes a visual impairment?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines visual impairment as eyesight that doctors can’t correct to a functional level. The federal agency’s data shows that at least 1.02 million Americans were blind as of 2015. A National Health Interview Survey report from 2011 showed that only 36.8% of blind persons had jobs.
Age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts are a few of the many leading medical conditions that cause blindness among Americans 40 and over.
What are your rights during the hiring process?
Many employers avoid hiring visually impaired workers out of fear that they’ll be too prone to accidents or that it will be too costly to accommodate their needs.
What many employers neglect to realize is that the ADA protects the rights of visually impaired individuals. This law prohibits employers from asking prospective employees if they have visual impairments but does allow them to inquire if an applicant can work at night, read labels on packages or inspect small electronic components for damage.
Employers can ask prospective employees when the onset of their visual impairment was, how it affects their work and if they need special accommodations once they make a job offer, though. An employer can’t withdraw an employment offer or fire an employee unless they can’t perform their assigned duties with reasonable accommodations, though.
What can you do if your visual impairment impacted your job prospects?
Colorado and federal workplace discrimination laws prohibit employers from treating visually impaired workers unfairly during the employment process. A disability discrimination attorney can let you know what your rights are if your employer used your visual impairment to deny you a job or as grounds for firing you.