WCI, Inc
July 31, 2023

Visual disabilities update

The EEOC has released an updated technical assistance document, “Visual Disabilities in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” which explains how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to job applicants and employees with visual disabilities. It outlines when an employer may ask an applicant or employee questions about their vision, how an employer should treat voluntary disclosures about visual disabilities, and what types of reasonable accommodations may be necessary for visually disabled individuals in the workplace.

Artificial intelligence (AI). The updated document describes how using AI and algorithms to make employment decisions can impact individuals with visual disabilities. For example, the document explains that algorithmic or AI decision-making tools might screen out individuals with disabilities in the application process and when employees are on the job, even though such individuals are able to do jobs with or without reasonable accommodation. Under certain circumstances, for example, the employer might have to provide a reasonable accommodation, such as an alternative testing format, that would provide a more accurate assessment.

New technologies. It also highlights new technologies for reasonable accommodation and notes that there is a “wide range of possible changes in the application process, or in the way an employee performs the work,” that could reasonably accommodate individuals with vision impairments. The document provides many examples of assistive or accessible technology, work area adjustments, and modifications of workplace/employer policies, procedures, testing, or training that could be implemented.

Additionally, the document addresses how an employer should handle safety concerns about applicants and employees with visual disabilities and how it can ensure that no employee is harassed because of a visual disability. It reminds employers that when it comes to safety concerns, it should be careful not to act on the basis of myths, fears, or stereotypes. The document also explains when an employer, because of safety concerns, may refuse to hire, terminate, or temporarily restrict the duties of an individual with a vision impairment.

“The ADA became law 33 years ago today and continues to provide vital protections for workers, including those with visual disabilities,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “Providing reasonable accommodations is an employer’s responsibility. Workers who have vision impairments, including limited or low vision, should be provided the resources needed to succeed. This document will provide employers the guidance to do so.”

Source: Written by Brandi O. Brown, J.D.

From WCI's HR Answers Now ©2023 CCH Incorporated and its affiliates. All rights reserved.

2 Town Square Blvd, Suite 370, Asheville, NC 28803 +1 (800) 621-2685 [email protected]