Self-advocacy & accommodations for the visually impaired

As a visually impaired adult, you are your best advocate. You know your disability best and should feel confident in discussing the accommodations you’re entitled to.

Knowing your rights

First, it’s important to know your rights and the laws that were designed to help you. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people who have a disability, including those with a visual impairment if it limits a major life activity or was substantially limiting in the past.

The ADA guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in:

  • Public accommodations (restaurants, hotels, retail stores, etc.)
  • Employment
  • Transportation
  • State and local government services
  • Telecommunications

As part of the ADA, you are allowed certain accommodations in the workplace or at a college or university.

How to request accommodations

When requesting accommodations, it’s important to be able to explain the degree of your visual impairment and what needs you have. Be assertive, but polite while discussing the accommodations you require. This is something that can be discussed with an employer or with the disability services office at your college or university.

Workplace accommodation examples

  • Software to read a computer screen
  • Modifications to employment testing or training courses
  • Permitted to have guide dog in building
  • Scanner to create documents in electronic form
  • Accessible website
  • A modified schedule

Classroom accommodation examples

  • Seating in the front of the classroom
  • Desk that is well lit
  • An area with extra storage and/or ample room for supplies and equipment
  • Reader who can dictate reading material
  • Scribe who can write for you if you need assistance
  • Textbooks in audio format
  • Large print books and handouts
  • Use of a word processor or braillewriter in class

Other general accommodations

  • Bold-lined or raised-lined paper
  • Magnifiers
  • Monocular/binocular telescopes
  • Closed captioned television
  • A talking or large-text calculator
  • Use of a digital recorders or alternative recording device

For a comprehensive overview of the ADA, and your rights when requesting accommodations, visit the federal government’s Americans with Disabilities Act Questions and Answers.