Employer responsibilities to blind employees under ADA

On Behalf of Dunlap Fiore, LLC |

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees who have a disability. An individual is considered to have a disability if they suffer from an impairment that greatly limits a major life activity or have a history of suffering from at least a single impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.

With regard to employees or prospective employees that have low vision or are blind, just as with any other disability, an employer must provide accommodations as long as doing so is considered reasonable and does not impose an undue hardship. An employer cannot be compelled to eliminate a core function of a position as a form of reasonable accommodation, nor does the employer have to accept subpar performance that falls below the required standard.

It is also important to note that there is no limit on the amount of reasonable accommodations that an employer is required by law to provide to an employee who is blind, which would also be the case for any impairment and not strictly just visually related ones. Each request for an accommodation must be evaluated independently to determine whether meeting it would pose an undue hardship on the employer.

Also, outsourcing events and functions to another business entity does not absolve the employer from its responsibility to provide reasonable accommodation to its blind employees. For example, if an employer contracts with an outside firm to offer its employees a training seminar, it is the employer’s responsibility to make sure that the accommodations can be made to ensure that the blind employee will be able to attend the seminar, whether that entails offering the course material in braille or installing a magnifier or screen reader on the employee’s computer if the employee has low vision.

Employment law is a complex area. For employers interested in finding out more about how their business should ensure that it is in compliance with ADA, they should consider contacting a law firm familiar with employment issues.

Source: U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Questions & Answers about Blindness and Vision Impairments in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” Accessed April 13, 2015