To Disclose Your Vision Impairment? Or Not …

Should you tell a prospective or current employer that you have a vision impairment? If so, at what stage should you do this – in your application, before the interview or at the interview – and what information should you provide?

Disclosure of your vision impairment is a very personal issue and therefore deserves careful thought. Only you can decide on what is right for you.

Points to consider:

  • If you do disclose, you may encounter the employer’s negative beliefs about people with disabilities and their abilities to undertake the work
  • If you don’t disclose, your employer may wonder, “If you have been dishonest about something as important as having low vision, what else might you be hiding? Are you trustworthy?”
  • If you do disclose, your future employer will have time to think positively about how a person with a vision impairment may perform the duties
  • If you don’t disclose, you may give your potential employer the chance to meet you without preconceptions allowing you to discuss and demonstrate how you will successfully undertake the work and be an efficient and capable employee
  • If you don’t disclose, you might get the position, but you may not keep it for long if your low vision is not discussed and any necessary accommodations made

Strategies that will assist in discussing your vision status

Develop an effective statement of disclosure concerning your visual impairment – what you want to say to others that you are comfortable with and that will help them understand your strengths and limitations, and how you plan to undertake the work.

Points to consider:

  • Script your disclosure. Write it down and have it critiqued. Rehearse your disclosure script until you feel comfortable and good about it, not only with the words you say, but also your delivery, body language etc. Practice in front of family and friends.
  • When you prepare your script, avoid being too clinical or too detailed. It may be of great interest to you, but the potential employer probably just wants to know these four things:
    • Can you perform the job safely?
    • Can you do the job as well or better than anyone else?
    • How will you do things that normally sighted people do visually, such as read, write and use a computer?
    • How much is it going to cost?
  • Be positive about your skills and abilities. Use examples of tasks or jobs you’ve accomplished to demonstrate your skills and abilities. The more positive and demonstrative you are, the more you convey your competence and give evidence that you “just happen to have a vision impairment.” The reverse can be true, too. The more you discuss your disability and resultant limitations, the more it may become an overwhelming and negative characteristic in the employer’s mind.
  • Along with being positive, be proactive. Take essential assistive technology items and low tech tools with you to the job interview. If you use a tool that’s too large to carry easily, such as a video magnifier, take a picture or a product flyer with you. Borrow tools if necessary! That way, when you’re assuring potential employers that you have the skills to do the job, you can demonstrate by using, for example, JAWS on your laptop.
  • Be aware of all the Government funding supports that can assist your potential employer to financially accommodate your low vision or blindness.

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