13 February 2017

Four Home Accommodations for Individuals with Visual Impairment

There are several steps you can take to make your home more comfortable and accessible for people with visual impairment. The key is to keep in mind their needs for lighting, safety, and convenience when making modifications. The steps to meeting these needs often include adding lighting and other products designed for safety and improving home organization.

1. Low Vision Lights

Manufacturers offer a variety of lighting options for people with low vision. Items such as magnifying lamps, task lamps, natural daylight lamps, floor lamps, portable lights, and lamps that combine lighting and magnification. Keep in mind that too much or too little light can pose issues for people with low vision, so you may need to experiment with lighting until you get it right.

It’s also important to remember that certain types of lighting are better suited to some tasks than others. Some people with vision impairment prefer full spectrum bulbs in swing-arm lamps that they can direct onto their tasks. Others prefer incandescent lights for direct lighting when performing close work such as reading and sewing. Still others prefer halogen lighting because it produces whiter light that enhances contrast; yet, some people do not like these lights because they cause glare. As technology evolves, LED lights have quickly become a favorite of some people with visual impairment because they deliver top quality light with colors that do not damage the eyes.

While you are experimenting with types of light fixtures and light bulbs, remember to place light where it is most needed. Swivel lamps and those with adjustable necks are ideal for placement on tables, desks, and countertops. Floor lamps and table lamps should be placed next to chairs that people frequently sit in. Other tips include directing light over the shoulder so that it does not cast a shadow and using lampshades to target light on specific areas rather than scattered into the room.

2. Reduce Glare

While good lighting is important for the safety and comfort of a person with a visual impairment, it can cause too much glare. Some people with vision impairment have high light sensitivity, and there are a few accommodations you can make to reduce glare. First, install room darkening blinds or curtains to block out bright sunlight. Adding tint to windows that are in the path of direct sunlight also helps to reduce glare. If you have a mirror that reflects light and causes glare, place a decorative scarf on top of it that can be used to block the light as needed. You also may need to reposition computer monitors and televisions that have a glare from lights or sunlight.

3. Fall Prevention

The risk for injury caused by falls increases for people with visual impairment, so it is essential for you to take steps to prevent falls at home. One of the first things you can do is declutter your home. Make sure everything is in its place and nothing is sitting on the floor other than furniture and lamps. Keep walkways and high traffic areas free of tripping hazards, and make sure that electrical cords run along the wall or are taped down securely.

One other way to prevent falls is to make sure that you have well-lit rooms and that you have night lights in bedrooms, hallways, bathrooms, and other areas that people with vision impairment navigate at night. Your stairways may need some lighting modifications to prevent falls as well. Some families install LED lights under railings while others place them on the face of steps to light the stairs themselves. It also helps to place strips of brightly colored tape on the edge of each step or to install stair runners that contrast with the colors of the steps.

4. Modify Doorways

With a few simple modifications to your doorways, you can make it easier for people with visual impairment to navigate your home. Paint or stain doorways a color that contrasts with your wall and floor color so that people can easily identify the opening and walk through it. Place night lights or lamps beside doorways so they are easier to locate at night. Of course, it is a good idea to get into the habit of leaving doors completely open or completely closed so that people with visual impairment know what to expect when navigating through the home.

Home modifications such as low vision lighting, glare reduction, fall prevention, and more visible doorways make a home more accessible for individuals with vision impairment and give them more confidence and independence.

About writer:
Jackie Water runs hyper-tidy.com, providing advice on being...Hyper Tidy!

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