Everyday tasks that most people take for granted, such as applying makeup or navigating through an unfamiliar room, can be challenging for people with impaired vision. By making some strategic changes and home modifications, you can make life easier for loved ones who have low vision or blindness. Here are a few ways to improve your home and simplify life for your loved one.
Provide Adequate Lighting in Common Areas
Lighting is an easy update to your home that can make a big impact on functional living for family members with visual impairments. Good lighting isn’t just essential for close tasks such as reading, but also for navigating through the home, particularly in areas that typically have dim lighting like hallways, stairway, and entrances. Simply swapping dark lamp shades for white shades and lamps that can accommodate more (and brighter) light bulbs can dramatically brighten spaces throughout your home. Lamps that offer three-way lighting are especially useful for areas used for reading. LED light bulbs are a good option, as they provide bright, cool light without contributing to glare. Plus, they last significantly longer than standard incandescent bulbs and consume less electricity.
Use Contrast Tape to Highlight Hazardous Areas
Many homes have areas with different flooring levels, such as the transition between rooms or a sunken living room or den that sits at a lower level than the rest of the home. These differences can pose a tripping risk for people with visual impairments, as it can be more difficult to discern steps that blend in with other flooring and subtle transition strips.
Highlighting these hazards with tape that’s either brightly colored or contrasts with the floor can make them more easily detectable by people with visual impairments. Use white tape for dark flooring, for instance, or choose a reflective contrast tape for greater visibility.
Reduce Clutter for Safe and Easy Navigation
A cluttered home poses safety risks for all family members, but clutter can be particularly dangerous for people with visual impairments. Random items strewn on the floor may not be easily discernible, making it more likely that a loved one with visual impairments could trip and fall.
Cluttered furnishings tend to make rooms dimmer, as well, as furniture blocks lighting; casting shadows on the floor, making it even harder to see potential hazards in the path to other areas of the home. Rearrange furniture to create an open layout and provide a clear walking path. However, you should avoid rearranging furniture frequently, as people with low vision or blindness often rely on their memory to navigate the home.
Use Contrast and Texture to Enhance Functional Living
Contrast isn’t only useful for highlighting changes to flooring levels; it’s also a useful tool to make objects easier to see in places like kitchen cabinets and drawers. You can use light-colored drawer liners to make kitchen utensils easier to see in drawers, for instance, and use contrasting colors strategically on walls, in closets, and other spaces to aid visibility.
Labeling drawers and cabinets to identify the contents with large font can also help people with visual impairments quickly find the items they need; alternatively, you can use textured indicators to aid identification.
While learning to accommodate a visual impairment may at first seem overwhelming, a whole house remodel isn’t always necessary to make life more functional. Start with a few simple changes and updates that can make your loved one more independent and enhance their ability to carry out everyday tasks with greater ease.