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I have low vision. What vision accessible tools are available to me to apply?

As a person with low vision or vision loss, you potentially qualify for disability benefits. Before you can begin receiving monthly payments however, you’ll need to apply and be approved for disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides tools and options to assist individuals with low vision and other disabilities, including:

BrowseAloud

BrowseAloud is a program that reads web content aloud to internet users. It is offered free of charge for download on the SSA’s website. This plug-in makes all online resources accessible for blind and other visually impaired individuals, giving them full and complete access to the SSA’s website and all the information it contains.

Text Size Adjustments

The SSA’s accessibility information pages include instructions on how to adjust the size of text on webpages. These instructional documents include details for adjusting the appearance of text documents in various web browsers, including Internet Explorer and Firefox, among others.

Keyboard and Typing Assistance

If you struggle to read online, you may also have difficulty typing and therefore browsing the SSA’s website or filling out online forms. All online resources from the SSA are designed for compatibility with speech recognition software like Dragon. The SSA additionally provides information at the Accessibility Home page about how Dragon and similar programs work with its online resources.

Online Application

People who struggle to read online can still use the SSA’s online application portal, with the assistance of a friend, family member, social worker, or someone else. This portal is also compatible with the SSA’s other accessibility tools, including text size adjustment options and the BrowseAloud plug-in. These tools can help you complete the online application without assistance, if you choose to do so.

Downloads and Printed Documents

Many individuals with low vision find it difficult to read on a computer screen but easier to understand information in hardcopy format. All of the SSA’s forms and publications are available to download and print from the website. You can manipulate the size of text before printing, which may help you too.

Requesting Assistance

The SSA offers targeted assistance for disability applicants, when needed. You can call the main help line at 1-800-772-1213 to ask questions, seek additional assistance, or schedule an interview appointment.

Applying In Person

If you’d prefer to apply at the local SSA office, you can take a friend, family member, or someone else along with you to help when needed. The SSA will allow someone else to apply on your behalf, if you choose to go that route instead. If you apply locally, an SSA representative can additionally read questions to you, record your responses, and submit your disability application for review.

Seeking Legal Assistance

A disability attorney or advocate can help you complete the application process and understand all of the SSA’s fine print. He or she can review communications from the SSA, including any requests you may receive for additional details on or records about your low vision.

Attorneys that handle disability claims work on contingency, which means you can get the assistance you need without paying anything upfront. You’ll only owe for legal services if the SSA finds you eligible for disability, and having an attorney on your side can potentially increase your chances of approval, especially if you have to file an appeal.