1998 Conference Proceedings

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GUIDELINES ON CHOOSING ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY
FOR PERSONS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS

Seville Allen
Program Analyst Computer/electronic Accommodations Program
Phone: (703)681-8812
e-mail: sallen@ha.osd.mil

With the use of technology being a major aspect of the modern workplace, it is important for persons with visual impairments to have the right tools to function on the job. These tools are as vital as engineering or plumbers tools needed to do an efficient and competent job. Therefore, here are a set of guidelines for use in predicting how effectively visually impaired persons may use various types of assistive technology. Since persons with visual impairments do not see alike, these guidelines assist in assessing how functional vision is utilized on the job.

Most persons who are considered blind have some usable vision. Therefore, most accommodation assessments will involve how much that vision can be used to perform efficiently. If the vision is not useful for performing job functions,then speech or braille would be appropriate accommodations to explore. However, when vision is assessed for its usefulness, one must take into consideration the efficiency with which the vision is used. If magnification equipment is being considered, the individual with low vision must look at each option being explored. To determine the most appropriate accommodation solutions, follow these steps:

1. Conduct a job assessment to identify job functions and how the functions are performed

2. Evaluate vision use with various data presentations

3. Compare evaluation results with alternate output devices

4. Select the accommodation tools which facilitate the individual being accommodated optimal use of his/her skills and abilities. These tools must be compatible with the electronic environment in which the job is done.

The Department of Defense, Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program provides the assistive technology to individuals with visual disabilities. When using the right tools, visual acuity does not affect job efficiency. The right combination of tools can enhance skills and abilities whether an individual just fits the definition of legal blindness or has no usable vision at all.


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