The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published a technical assistance document on July 26, 2023, which discusses how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to applicants and employees who are visually impaired.

The document provides guidance on asking individuals about visual impairments, understanding reasonable accommodations, understanding how to handle safety concerns, and understanding how to ensure individuals are not harassed because of their visual disability. The EEOC also provides examples to employers on this document.

The document states that vision impairments include: blindness, low vision, limited visual fields, photosensitivity, color vision deficiencies, or night blindness. The document signifies the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2022 National Health Interview Survey, found approximately 18.4% of US adults are blind or have difficulty seeing, even when wearing corrective lenses.

When deciding whether an individual who wears standard eyeglasses or contact lenses has a disability, the employer may consider whether even with the use of these devices there is a substantial limitation to a major life activity. If not, then the person’s impairment does not constitute a disability under the ADA under the tests of “actual” disability or a “record” of such disability.

When the individual’s disability or accommodation is not already known and not obvious, the employer can request the person to provide reasonable documentation about how their medical condition limits their eyes, seeing, or other major life activities and why a reasonable accommodation is needed.  Only documentation that establishes the visual disability and explanation of why the accommodation may be required by the employer.

Whether you are a contractor or a private employer, Southwestern HR Consulting (SWHRC) is here to help. We keep track of the latest employment updates to keep you in compliance. Contact us today!

Magdalena Vigil-Tullar

Written by | Magdalena Vigil-Tullar


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