Some of us work to live, while others live to work. Our careers challenge and fulfill us, help shape and define us. In addition to providing financial security, our chosen professions bring crucial engagement, mental stimulation, and social connection at every stage of life.

For adults with vision loss, professional stability is vital. Workplace success can help offset the reduced self-confidence and diminished independence often experienced by those adjusting to vision loss. These factors frequently contribute to social isolation, significantly higher rates of anxiety, and almost double the level of depression among adults with blindness and vision loss (compared to adults without vision loss).1, 2

Vocational Rehabilitation can dramatically help people with vision loss overcome barriers to achieve meaningful and sustained employment, maximizing their potential and quality of life.

What is Vocational Rehabilitation?

Vocational Rehabilitation offers a broad range of training and support people with vision loss need to prepare for, secure, and maintain employment. The first step is an assessment conducted by a trained Vocational Rehabilitation counselor. The counselor will explore goals, skills, and abilities to help determine how vision loss affects the client’s current or desired position.

A personalized Vocational Rehabilitation Plan combines a refined array of modalities to develop new skills or enhance existing skills for a client’s chosen career path and professional development. Plan components may include:

  • Counseling that provides targeted guidance and support to assist clients in exploring and evaluating career options, establishing personal goals, and developing success strategies.
  • Orientation and Mobility Training that helps those with vision loss navigate the physical world safely and effectively at home, at work, and in their community. White cane training is often featured, along with effective techniques for the safe navigation of environments, including residential sidewalks, city streets, retail shops, and cultural venues. Because transportation is a frequent barrier to employment for those with blindness and low vision, training often focuses on accessing public and private transportation options through travel-related technology such as GPS and navigation apps, object-recognition smartphone apps, and electronic travel aids.
  • Access Technology and Assistive Devices and training that provide individuals with blindness and low vision access to hardware, software, and apps that help them communicate and perform work-related activities. Accessible Technology includes:
    • Screen Readers to translate screen information into electronic text or synthesized speech
    • Braille Keyboards and Displays to increase accessibility of typing on computers and smart devices
    • Screen Magnifiers, software that enlarges onscreen content and text, plus larger monitors and screens for ease of viewing
    • Optical Character Recognition/OCR to translate printed text into digital text that screen readers can convert for audio output
    • Voice Assistants to assist with work-related tasks
    • Smartphones and Tablet Accessibility Features to enhance the use of smart devices— some through voice activation. Screen displays can be customized for larger text size, color, and contrast. Larger monitors can help, and screen magnification may be used to magnify the area and items in front of the camera.
  • Job Placement Services that offer invaluable support and guidance for those with blindness or vision loss in transitioning to a new position or re-entering the workforce. Services include assistance with resume writing, job search, and interview preparation, always addressing the unique challenges and opportunities for job seekers with vision loss.
  • On-the-job support that helps guide employees with blindness or low vision, enabling them to assume new responsibilities, use new hardware or software, and address future vision changes. Ongoing support may include insight into workplace accommodations, adaptive equipment, and coaching to ensure continued success.

Job Placement Services may also connect job seekers with potential employers who appreciate the unique benefits of recruiting and employing associates with vision loss. Employers receive significant benefits when recruiting and maintaining an age-diverse workforce that includes seasoned professionals who possess an impressive range of skills, depth of experience, and a strong work ethic and offer expanded business networks and contacts. Such diversity further supports the development of multigenerational teams and intergenerational training. Vocational Rehabilitation professionals can guide and support employers who seek to create the most effective and positive  environment for staff with vision loss.

Erik Ramos is a Vocational Rehabilitation success story demonstrating how training and support can help people with vision loss achieve their career goals. Alphapointe, an agency offering vocational training and job placement services for people with blindness and low vision, worked closely with Erik for over a decade. After holding various entry-level positions, Erik obtained the vital skills and experience necessary to secure desirable positions in his chosen field of Information Technology. When Erik was ready to seek a more senior position, Alphapointe assisted with his job search, resume development, and interview preparation. This tailored support helped Erik secure a position as an IT Specialist for the New York City Department of Buildings. He succeeded, advanced, and transitioned to his current position as an IT Administrator for the Social Security Administration. Learn more about Erik’s inspiring professional journey.

Identifying a growing need: Adults working later in life

There has been a significant shift towards older adults working later in life. Many factors contribute to this trend, including increased life expectancy, changing views on work and retirement, financial need, and employer recognition that workers 55+ offer extensive skills and experience.

Vocational Rehabilitation becomes increasingly crucial given the intersection of two factors: the increased percentage and number of adults currently working later in life, and the high prevalence of vision loss for adults 65+. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the labor force will grow to about 164 million people this year. That number includes about 41 million age 55 and older—of whom about 13 million are expected to be 65 and older. And, although they make up a smaller number of workers overall, the 65- to 74-year-old and 75-and-older age groups are projected to have faster rates of labor force growth annually than any other age group.3 Learn more about these significant trends

How to access Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Your local Vision Rehabilitation agency can provide crucial Vocational training, and many offer job placement services for people with blindness and low vision. Visit Time to Be Bold to locate local vision rehabilitation, vocational services, and other vital resources. The National Technical Assistance Center on Blindness and Low Vision also provides vocational information and support for individuals who are blind or have low vision, their families, friends, and caregivers. Call the APH hotline to receive support and practical coping strategies for everyday tasks, join remote discussion groups, and access free online resources at the APH Connect Center and VisionAware.

If you are an employer seeking information and support to recruit and employ people with blindness and vision loss or a service provider working with people who are blind or have low vision, visit the National Technical Assistance Center on Blindness and Low Vision.

To learn more about support for people with blindness and low vision, including the broad range of Vision Rehabilitation programs and services, enjoy the other articles in this series: 

This project was supported, in part by grant number 90CSSG0048 and 90FPSG0051 from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.


1. VisionServe Alliance. United States’ Older Population and Vision Loss: A Briefing, St. Louis. Found on the internet at

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2019 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Found on the internet at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

3. Monthly Labor Review. Labor force projections to 2024: the labor force is growing, but slowly. December 2015. Found on the internet at