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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss


Can any paralegals who are visually impaired share their experiences/obstacles while on the job?

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Re: paralegal

Hello, I just finished reading you're post and I'm also researching what it's like to become a Paralegal. I'm totaly blind since birth and I would like to know more information regarding this field whether or not, I would be ablew to handle working for a law firm. I have a friend who is a Paralegal although she is sighted and can do tasks more efficiently. I'm wondering, would it be possible for a totaly blind person to be a Paralegal?
I wish you the best of luck.


What does a paralegal do?



A response from Susan (retired paralegal -- retired 3 years ago):

To answer your question about being a visually impaired paralegal -- I will tell you about my experience. When I graduated as a certified paralegal, I was still able to drive and had only limited vision issues. For example, I could not drive at night, and for very small print I needed the assistance of a magnifier. My condition, which is retinitis pigmentosa is degenerative and my visual accuity and continued to decrease over the next ten years. During which time I was employed by a general practice law firm.
My employers were willing to be flexible as to the hours I could work (daylight) when possible.
As my vision decreased it became necessary to use adaptive technology. This included a CCTV, a magnification and screen reading program (Zoomtext), a scanner, and software to read printed material.
While all of these things are wonderful, there were still some unresolved issues. I was billed out to clients at a certain rate. I could not, nor could the firm charge the client for all of my time, for it definitely took me longer to perform some tasks than would be usual. It was up to me to "modify" my billing to what would be an acceptable rate.
Some documents were unable to be scanned and/or read with the equipment I had. My secretary often read certain things to me or helped in other ways.
I could not sit with a client and go over documents unless they could be read by cctv or scanned.

Most of these difficulties can be overcome. Flexibility and modification are key to being a successful paralegal with a visual impairment.
Good luck.

(This is Susan's advice for you).


I know you will get some great thoughts. My mother was a paralegal for over 15 years, has since retired. She is visually impaired. She had low vision and utilized a CCTV or Video Magnifier, ZoomText with a Reader, and hand held magnifiers.

She worked for a law firm, one of the lawyers was a part of her peronal network. This helped her get in, but she proved herself. She had a real estate license, as well. This also proved to be an asset for her at the firm. She is extremely organized and thurough, as I am sure you are.

She really enjoyed being a paralegal, she had been a real estate agent and then went back to school later in life to get training to be a paralegal.

She worked for a firm a long time, then did some contract work from home for a few firms -- during retirement.

I am sure you will get some quality answers, but I will ask her about the struggles or obstacles that she ran into. She only retired a few years ago.

Joe S.
AFB Staff

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