Vision impairment impacts a person’s life in many ways, whether they are completely blind or have low vision.
Fortunately, it doesn’t require much effort for those of us with healthy vision to make things easier for our vision-impaired friends and family to get around and feel comfortable when they visit our homes — which is especially crucial for us to do when it’s more than a short visit. So what can we do to help?
Whenever you have guests with low vision, good lighting will really help them out. It’s important to find balance between having enough light and avoiding glare from too much light. Add lamps in areas without much overhead lighting and make sure the stairways and bathrooms are well lit (particularly at night). To reduce glare, add blinds in rooms that get a lot of direct sunlight and angle the TV away from light sources.
If your family member or friend is completely blind, then the lighting situation in your home won’t impact them. When you visit their house, you might want to remind them to turn the lights off again after you leave so they don’t end up paying for the extra electricity!
Even though lighting is a major factor, it isn’t the only one that will help low vision guests see better in your home. Adding visual contrast in your decorating will also make things easier for them.
- Objects that are the same color as the surface they sit on can end up looking camouflaged, so arrange light-colored objects against dark backgrounds, and vice versa.
- Use contrasting upholstery and bedding, such as brightly colored pillows against lighter sheets.
- Avoid patterns. Patterns can look confusing and make things blend in unwanted ways.
- Add brightly colored tape along edges of flooring and stairs so that these trip hazards are more obvious. You can also add tape to light switches.
Beyond decoration, cleanliness and organization will also go a long way towards making a visually impaired guest feel safe and comfortable in your house. Keep things tidy and put them back in their places so they can be easily found. Use labels with large, clear lettering to help differentiate between similar-looking food items, and keep things spaced out on shelves instead of cluttered together. You can also ensure that doors are propped open or left closed so that they don’t get in the way.
Particularly for completely blind guests, you can make it easier for them to get around on their own by use of their sense of touch. Put rubber bands on toothbrushes to differentiate them. Use tactile labeling on everyday items. Use tactile clues in the house such as different rugs and textured mats. Like tactile labeling, using different materials and fabrics will help in figuring out locations.
You might also consider marking various appliances, as shown in this video:
Small Efforts Have A Powerful Impact
If you’re new to living with someone who has a vision impairment or are expecting a low-vision guest and you still have questions about making your house safer for them, don’t hesitate to give your local Vision Source® member optometrist a call!
We’d love to hear your ideas for ways to keep a home low-vision friendly!
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