See the Low Vision Alert in Spring 2011 issue
for other reader options. Download a PDF of the
story at www.nationalMSsociety.org/springlva
or call 1-800-344-4867 to request a paper copy.
Get a helpful cell phone. Many cell phones
require sharp vision due to their relatively small
screens. So if you need a portable phone for work,
choose one with good accessibility features. The
iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS have a built-in screen
reader that can speak aloud features on the screen
and will read letters aloud as you type. On the
simpler side, the Jitterbug J is a flip phone that
offers a variety of functions of help to users with
low vision, such as large-print buttons and operator assistance. The Samsung Haven is another flip
phone with useful features, including the ability to
read aloud on-screen menus and text messages.
Don’t forget low-tech! Fancier is not always
better. Some simple solutions to common problems include talking clocks, wrist watches and
calculators, large-print rulers and computer keyboards—or, even cheaper, large-print stickers to
place on your existing keyboard.
Ask for workplace changes. It’s reasonable to
ask an employer to make some changes to accommodate low-vision needs—but asking for reasonable accommodations requires preparation and
familiarity with the provisions of the Americans
with Disabilities Act. Call an MS Navigator® at
1-800-344-4867 for details.
Most of the devices described above would be
considered “reasonable accommodations.” Other
accommodations might include a desk lamp
or other lighting to brighten your work area or
improve visibility around hazards you pass regularly. For easier navigation around the building,
consider asking your employer to paint the edges
of doorways or stairs in a contrasting color.
Look into telecommuting. Your employer may
agree to let you telecommute, which could resolve
some vision-related issues. If, for example, you are
using software that reads your computer screen
aloud, working from home may be a good solution. In addition, if fatigue causes your vision to
Accessibility tutorials for Microsoft products,
such as Windows, O;ce and Internet Explorer:
Low vision equipment:
Low Vision Center: 301-951-4444,
The National Association for Visually
Handicapped: 800-677-9965, www.navh.org
The National Federation of the Blind:
The National Eye Institute: 301-496-5248,
Low vision workplace accommodations:
List of state vocational rehabilitation
falter, working at home would allow you to pace
yourself better during the day and save the energy
consumed in traveling to and from work.
Research a new line of work. If vision problems are going to prevent you from doing your
present job, reach out to your state’s department
of vocational rehabilitation. You can also contact
an MS Navigator who can connect you with job-retraining services. Perfect vision is not a requirement for every meaningful job.
Eric Metcalf is a writer and author based in Indianapolis,
Ind., who specializes in health and medical issues.