How Can I Master Clinical Skills if I Have Impaired Vision?
Please explore our website for resources in regard to education, advocacy, and work. You may already know about national organizations providing assistance for people with impaired vision nfb.org/state-and-local-organizations and “Shedding Light on Nurses with Vision Loss.”
The ADA Amendments specify that mitigating measures or devices such as special eye wear cannot be considered in determining whether a person has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity (the criterion for protection under the ADA). This means that your bioptics (described below) or other special adaptations that help you function well do not disqualify you for protection under the ADA. In addition, here are some specific suggestions from our Board members about how you might adapt to the clinical setting:
- Use a clip-on magnifier for hands-free magnification or hand magnifiers.
- Use lenses such as those used by surgeons or a bioptic, which work like binoculars. You can zoom in or out until you can see the object. A specialist in low vision optometry can prescribe these special binocular glasses.
- Review different low vision websites for instruments to test out in the learning laboratory with your instructor. You may need different items for different tasks; make sure you can return the ones that do not work for you.
- Use a headband light. Extra light is extremely important in accomplishing clinical tasks; fluorescent lights are problematic for people with low vision.
- Use a talking blood pressure device and talking thermometer.
- For charting on paper: A hand-held magnification device from Telesensory utilizes a computer screen where the size of the object/print can be enlarged.
- For computer charting: Screen magnifiers (programs added to agency mainframes or a pen drive that can be taken from computer to computer) work wonders for anyone with low vision. Zoomtext is one of the available assistive technology software programs but there are many companies that sell these products.
- For catheterizing: A headband light can help you view the area for catheter insertion a little better. Get closer than other nurses to the patient, while making sure to maintain the sterile field. Extra light and closer proximity to the patient are the keys to this procedure.
- For tracheotomy care: Extra light and magnification glasses or clip-ons will help. With gloved hands, place one index finger alongside the tracheotomy so that you can feel the opening. Use that finger as a guide to insert the suction tube into the trach. Because you will get closer than other nurses (while still maintaining your sterile field), you may want to wear a mask. This may take a little practice but it works.
- For IV medication administration: Again, the key is getting close and having adequate light. You can use magnifier glasses to make the very small print larger and a headband light to view the small connections for the tubing.
Other resources for you include the following:
- For protection, advocacy, and legal assistance, contact your state National Disability Rights Network. Be sure to click on your state so that you get relevant and timely information.
- For assistance with the ADA, contact the Americans with Disabilities Act Technical Assistance Centers. Learning about the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 will help you to understand how the ADAAA broadens coverage for many individuals.
- For connections with nurses with disabilities in your community, contact your local Center for Independent Living.
- For information about activism, contact your local adapt organization.
- For information about how to get a job or get through school, contact your State Vocational Rehabilitation Program or the Job Accommodation Network.
Disclaimer: The National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND) does not offer legal advice but NOND does offer resources to help you understand your rights, protections, and responsibilities within various Disability Rights Laws.