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Making Your Home Blind Friendly

J watersJackie Waters tells her Story

As sufferers and those who suffer around them we all know only too well visual impairment can take on many variations and levels of sight loss. From partial to complete and thousands of degrees between. When my sister-in-law had to move into our family farm house we knew we had to make changes to make her life as comfortable and safe as possible.
We set to work making many improvements and conversions to our dwelling. Hours were spent gathering reliable helpful tips to make these changes and I would like to share some of these with you.
Here are just some of the more immediate examples you may wish to consider if you are living with anyone with sight loss.

1. Lighting and Glare

Adjusting lighting and glare can better control the negative impact of visual impairment. Some people will need additional lighting while others may need reduced lighting. If increased lighting is in order, use light directed onto the task at hand with lamps that are flexible or that can swing on a hinged arm. Be sure that the lighting makes the person feel comfortable and is diffused in order to reduce glare. Should the person require reduced lighting, purchase lamps that take three-way bulbs that can be adjusted with the click of the switch. It's also helpful to put overhead lights on dimmer switches so the intensity of light can be adjusted as needed.

There are several modifications you can make to reduce glare. First, think about where the sun shines into your home and use blinds, shades, curtains, or sheers to reduce the amount of glare coming in from outside. It's also helpful to cover shiny tables and floors with table runners, placemats, doilies, and rugs. If your walls are painted with gloss paint, consider painting over it with an eggshell or matte paint that is not as shiny.

2. Use Color and Contrast

One trick for helping people with visual impairment feel comfortable at home is to use contrast and color to enhance safety and accessibility. Keep in mind that it is easier for people with visual impairment to see bright colors because they reflect light better and that solid, bright colors like red, orange, and yellow are easier to see than pastels. Bright white lights will intensify color and make it easier to see them as well.

To modify your home, consider putting bright, colorful tape on the edges of stairs and near potential hazards so they stand out to the person with visual impairment. It's helpful to mark cabinets and door edges with brightly colored tape so the person can see when doors and drawers are ajar. Marking workspaces and chairs, tables, and lamps with bright tape also helps people identify their surroundings and navigate their way through the home.

Similarly, contrasting colors help those with low vision see objects more clearly. White and bright yellow objects stand out on black backgrounds, so it is a good idea to back white switches in the home with dark switch plates. If you have dark furniture, install light flooring and paint the walls a light color, or vice versa. It's also important to carefully choose your dinnerware and food container colors; clear plates and cups will be too difficult to see for the person with low vision.

3. Reduce the Fall Risk at Home

Senior citizens are at an increased risk of falling, and vision loss also is associated with fall risk. Home modifications can reduce the risk of falling when they are done correctly. First, remove or replace carpeting and rugs that are wrinkled or worn and can cause someone to trip. Next, choose non-skid flooring or clean with non-skid products that reduce glare. It's also crucial to look for trip hazards and remove things such as loose wires, clutter, toys that have not been put away, etc. In the bathroom, install grab bars in the tub and shower and on either side of the toilet so that your loved one has something to hold onto when maneuvering in tight corners.

Outside the home, there are other fall risks to consider. Ensure proper lighting is installed along sidewalks and walkways. Trim bushes back from these walking areas and line the edges of the walkways with colored tape. If you have a ramp, line the edges of it with colored tape as well.

Additional Resources and Programs for Individuals Who are Visually Impaired

● American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)
Assistive Technology Fund of the Association of Blind Citizens
National Assistive Technology Technical Assistance Partnership
Lions Clubs International

Image via Pixabay by Pexels



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