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Guest Article - April 2017

In the first of a number of guest articles we look at advice on how to prepare your home for someone who is visually impaired. We hope to bring you a number of articles over time. If there is something you would like to see or if you would like to submit an article please contact brib@qac.ac.uk.

 

How to Prepare Your Home for Someone with Visual Impairment

/media/news/library/guest-article-photo.jpgThere are many causes of visual impairment including glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and congenital blindness, among others. If you or a loved one are beginning to experience vision loss, it is important to prepare your home to ensure safety. Home modifications for people with disabilities also help you live as independently as possible even as you experience vision loss. If you need to know where to begin preparing your home for someone with a visual impairment, these suggestions can act as a guide.

Remove Potential Hazards

Any obstacle that could cause a trip or fall is a potential home hazard for someone with a visual impairment. Inspect the home for worn carpeting that is loose around the edges or in doorways and replace it or have a professional repair it. If you own area rugs, use rug tape to secure them firmly to the floor or remove them altogether. One hazard people often overlook is electrical cords; if you have any cords in heavily travelled areas, tape them down or remove them.

It’s also important for everyone in the home to push in chairs when they get up from a desk or table. If large furniture makes it difficult to manoeuvre throughout the home, change the room layout, but make sure the person with the visual impairment is made aware of the changes and has someone to guide him/her around for a few days until he/she gets the hang of walking through the unfamiliar room arrangements.

Add Lighting to Low-Lit Areas

While glare can pose a problem to people with visual impairment, it is often helpful to increase the lighting in areas that are used frequently. Floor lamps, desk lamps, and table lamps should be placed in these areas with lamp shades that help diffuse light and cut down on glare. In the kitchen, additional lights under cabinets can help in low-lit areas. It can be useful for all bedrooms, bathrooms, and hallways to have night lights in them so people with vision impairment can see to manoeuvre no matter the time of day.

One other way to make areas of the home brighter is to reduce the amount of clutter in each room. Place light filtering shades or curtains on windows to allow natural light in during the day without the glare.

Take Advantage of Smart Home Technology

To make it even easier for people with vision loss to turn on lights and improve their ability to navigate the home, take advantage of smart home technology. This technology allows people to turn lights on and off remotely rather than needing to walk over to the lamp and find the switch. Some of the remote modules are compatible with dimmable bulbs so the person with vision impairment can adjust the lighting to his needs quickly and easily. Other smart home products also are available, such as remote-control blinds and remote-control music for people to control their home accessories with their voice rather than their sight to find switches to operate them.

Use Solid Colours for Identification Purposes

Patterns on upholstery, curtains, and carpeting can confuse people who are visually impaired. It can be better to decorate with solid colours so people can identify objects and areas of the home more easily. Bright colours also work best for people with low vision. You may want to purchase bright vases, lamps, blankets, and other home accessories that can be strategically placed as cues for the person with vision loss.

It is also helpful to put brightly coloured, solid tape on the edges of doors and drawers so that the person with visual impairment can see that they are open instead of closed. This same tape may be placed on the edges of stairs and raised porches and along stairs to help the person understand where the boundaries are in order to avoid a fall or injury.

Seek Additional Support

It’s also a good idea to check with your energy supplier to find out about joining their Priority Services Register. They can offer annual gas safety checks, send bills in an adapted format to meet your needs, and give you advice on how to make your home more energy efficient. If you live somewhere there is regular poor weather, such as blizzards, joining the PSR could also reduce your downtime if service is interrupted.

By removing potential hazards, adding lighting to low-lit areas, taking advantage of smart home technology, using solid colours for identification purposes, and seeking additional support, you will reduce the risks your home poses to a person with a visual impairment.

Image via Pixabay by time2org
Words by J Waters

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