Finding the Right Workplace Technology

The first thing to do is analyze all of the job duties you perform, and determine which are the “essential” tasks that you must accomplish. Your job description can help you to sort essential from non-essential tasks, but you may also need to consult your supervisor.

Next, determine how much of your work day you spend performing these tasks. For example, you might spend 30% of your time on the phone with customers, which also requires you to look up information on the computer, 25% answering emails, 20% opening and distributing mail, 15% dealing with walk-in customers, and 10% filing paperwork in a file room away from your desk. It’s important to determine which job duties require vision, and where and when you’re experiencing difficulties because of vision loss.

Discuss the difficulties you are experiencing with your Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. For example, if your job involves computer work and you have problems seeing the screen, your counselor can introduce you to the different types of software or devices that will allow you to access information and continue working independently. Tell your counselor what your job requires and let him or her guide you to the most appropriate solutions.

An assessment at a formal evaluation center, which may or may not be close to your home, is usually recommended, arranged and paid for by your Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. An assistive technology evaluation will help you determine which assistive technologies will best meet your needs, such as electronic video magnifiers and computers with screen-reading software. It is important that you consider your stamina for using your vision, as well as your need for portability when choosing technology. If you prefer screen magnification software for computer access, but after one hour your eyes fatigue, and your job requires you to use the computer at least 6 hours per day, you will need to consider using screen reading software in order to do your job. If your video magnifier is a desktop model, but you need to file papers in another area of the office, you will need a portable device as well. People with low vision often use a combination of technologies to perform their jobs effectively and efficiently.